3 home improvement projects with the highest payoff before and after COVID-19 | Smart Change: Personal Finance

That kitchen remodeling you’ve been saving for? It may not add as much value to your home today as it would have three years ago. That’s because, generally, returns on investment in home improvement projects are lower now than pre-pandemic. But there are still several upgrades—including a kitchen remodel—that can help homeowners recoup a majority of their investment.

Angi analyzed data from Zonda Media’s Remodeling 2022 Cost vs. Value Report to find the three projects that saw the highest percentage of their costs recouped. The analysis compares cost and return on investment for those projects in 2019 and 2022 to see the status before COVID-19 and in its wake, honing in on the 10 largest cities in the U.S. For 2022, the three projects with the highest cost recouped are garage door replacements, manufactured stone veneer, and minor, midrange kitchen remodels.

Overall, home renovation costs have been steadily increasing overall the past two years, as global supply chains were thrown into disarray by pandemic-era regulations and public health precautions.

Labor has also become an increasingly expensive part of construction and home renovation work due to a national shortage of skilled workers in building trades. Employers face pressure to increase wages in order to attract the needed workers, resulting in a larger bill at the end of the day for consumers. The U.S. is projected to have a shortage of 650,000 construction workers over the remainder of 2022, according to a February 2022 report from Associated Builders and Contractors.

But rising costs haven’t stopped Americans from upgrading their homes. Home remodeling activity in the U.S. has been heating up since the end of 2020 and is just now starting to moderate, according to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.

One thing to keep in mind if you are planning a new project: Demand for building materials has grown over the past year. And as a result, manufacturers are increasing materials prices. Prices have gone up 10% to 15% this year and many parts of the country are experiencing long delivery times, according to an Angi industry analysis. If you’re planning a building project, start as early as possible in the season, prepare for potential price fluctuations, and allow extra time to order materials.

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