How much return on my investment can I expect from a remodel?

Do It Yourself

That rule about renovations never being worth more than they cost assumes one crucial thing: that you're paying someone to do the work. Factoring in labor costs, the return on the money you put into remodeling will never exceed 100 percent. But what if you don't have to pay labor costs?

If you have the know-how, the time and the tools, you can do the work yourself and pay only for materials. That way, you're putting "sweat equity" into the home, which you'll get back as cash when you sell. Make sure you really know what you're doing, though. A botched or shoddy job will only detract from your home's value, and could end up costing you a lot more if you have to pay someone to fix your screw-ups.

Luckily, some of the remodeling projects that typically offer the best return on investment aren't especially complicated. Building a deck doesn't require much in the way of specialized equipment or skills, just a lot of time and some careful planning and measuring (not to mention a whole lot of rechargeable batteries for your cordless drill). Updating your kitchen or bathroom with new flooring or countertops is pretty DIY-friendly as well. If your planned project involves major structural work on the house, roofing, electrical work or complicated plumbing, you're better off leaving that to a professional [source: Price-Robinson].

Which remodeling projects are worth the most when you sell your home? Find out in the next section.