SOURCE: James Hardie Siding

April 25, 2011 05:00 ET

Savvy Home Improvements From James Hardie

MISSION, KS--(Marketwire - Apr 25, 2011) - (Family Features) If you're looking to sell your home or just want to upgrade your current space, you need to know which home improvement projects will pay off in the long run and which ones will end up costing you.

The best home improvements will increase your resale value, positively affect utility bills, or reduce the cost of maintenance.

  • Instant Curb Appeal: While high-tech showers or appliances are perks to buying, they do not set the stage when a potential buyer enters the house. So if you're going to invest in a renovation, it should be one that instantly leaves an impression. Landscaping, new siding and refinished floors all show that a house is well maintained. They also send a message about the quality of an entire home more strongly than a single upgrade can.

  • Seek Out Safety: How sturdy are your stairs? Are your walkways free from tripping hazards, such as cracked concrete or uneven paving? How secure are your doors and windows? Are your entrances and pathways well lit? Upgrading these areas will make your home safer for your family and help alleviate concerns for any potential buyers.

  • Get Energy Efficient: Making energy-efficient additions and repairs helps reduce the home's operational costs. Improvements, such as added insulation and upgraded HVAC systems, could reduce cooling costs by up to 30 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Home appliances account for about 20 percent of your utility bills, so efficient choices can cut your costs while helping the environment.

When planning an improvement project, consider the long-term benefits of high-quality materials. Using low-grade products to save money now can actually cause more headaches - and potentially cost you more money - later. Cheaper materials usually don't hold up as well over time and often require more maintenance.

When upgrading building materials, look for options that require little maintenance and have a high perceived value. Fiber cement siding, such as James Hardie siding, is a great example of this concept because it can recoup as much as 84 percent of the cost upon resale. According to Remodeling magazine's 2009-10 Cost vs. Value Report, re-siding with fiber cement is one of the best home improvement investments, providing more of a return on investment than kitchen and bathroom remodels. With innovations like ColorPlus® Technology, a baked-on factory finish, James Hardie siding will maintain rich, long-lasting color in harsh weather conditions and is guaranteed to not need repainting for at least 15 years. Additional benefits, like termite and fire resistance, add to the savings in the overall cost of maintenance. For more information, visit

What home improvements are not worth the money?

  • Room additions can be costly and risky, especially if the space added is customized, such as a sauna or wine cellar, which may not appeal to future buyers.
  • Marble countertops may look nice in the beginning, but the porous stone needs constant maintenance. Marble can be damaged by water, burned by hot pans and eroded by cleaning products. Unless extreme care is used, it is possible that marble countertops will need to be replaced at the time of sale.
  • High-tech systems for the Internet or sound are a nice luxury, but because technology is continuously improving, updates will become outdated rather quickly.

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