Everyone wants to turn their house into their dream home, but that's often easier said than done. Whether you're upgrading your space or gearing up to sell, renovating your home is a big financial decision. After all, it's not only the place you live, it's most likely your largest investment.
"So how much does a home remodel cost?" you ask. If you have a home equity line of credit (HELOC), the answer is, "It's flexible." That's because, when you choose a HELOC to finance your upgrades, you're embracing the financial fluidity of borrowing against your home's available equity.
"With a home equity line, you have the access to the money you need to finance a remodel, plus the flexibility to re-utilize the line for other needs as they arise," said Jon Giles, senior vice president of TD Bank's Home Equity Group.
And clearly it's a popular option — according to a recent survey conducted by TD Bank, 64 percent of people said they have or would use a HELOC for home renovations or improvements. You can borrow multiple times if you need to, or borrow any amount you want on a secured credit line with interest that's typically tax deductible.
Here's a tour of potential home improvements, from the front lawn to the backyard.
1. Liven Up the Landscape
Landscaping is among the three most effective home improvements you can do to generate the biggest return on your money. It creates curb appeal in spades, and also helps prevent expensive potential damage, like fallen tree limbs and mold. Think of it as a safety net mixed with some green marketing that can increase your house's value by up to 5 percent.
Average Cost: You can put in some attractive curbing for a little over $1,000, or invest in the whole front-lawn package for about $3,400
2. Revive the Driveway
Assessing your driveway nets you a double benefit. One, it's a utilitarian feature that just about everyone needs to protect that other big investment — the car. Two, a cracked driveway tanks your curb appeal, and can even make way for unsightly weeds.
Average Cost: To repair a driveway, you're looking at about $1,500, or a little over $3,800 for a new one.
3. Freshen Up Your Exterior Paint
If you're like the 41 percent of TD Bank survey respondents whose property value has stagnated over the last year, giving the exterior of your home a fresh look could make a world of difference.
You just can't beat the cost effectiveness of exterior paint. Plus, it has a leg up on the limited color and texture options of siding — if you can imagine a paint color, it exists.
Average Cost: Heartier exterior paints exceed the cost of interior options, but not by much — the national average cost to paint a house is a little over $2,500, though you should account for about $1,500 more if you have a two-story.
4. Revitalize Your Roof
Whether you're playing catch out front or just cruising by, it's pretty hard to miss a roof. That could be why the National Association of Realtors named replacing a home's roof as the home renovation with the single greatest cost recovery in 2015 — this project usually recoups about 105 percent of its price tag.
Average Cost: About $7,600.
5. Gear Up the Garage
The garage door probably isn't the go-to improvement when you think about upping your curb appeal. But it does take up a whole lot of exterior visual space, and for that reason alone, it's totally worth a slice of that HELOC. Replacing the often-neglected garage door can net you a nearly 93 percent return on investment, on average.
Average Cost: This upgrade usually only runs about $730 to $1,400.
6. Refresh Your Front Door
If you're renovating your home with the intent to sell, don't underestimate the first impression your front door makes. According to ERA Real Estate Senior Manager of Program Development Kristin Wellins, "People make up their minds in the first seven seconds of entering a house." Make an immediate statement with a new front-door, or save big by sanding and painting the one you already have.
Average Cost: $200 to $300 for the door itself and $190 to $309 for the labor to install it (or about $20 for the DIY supplies).
7. Give Your Windows a New Outlook
Foggy, out-of-fashion windows can hurt your home in numerous ways, from hampering your curb appeal to reducing the light that comes in and even dragging down your energy efficiency. If you're selling, keep in mind that young buyers especially value eco-friendliness — but just about everyone wants to let a little light in.
Average Cost: Spend about $200 for a professional cleaning, or go all out with a new window installation for about $5,000.
8. Be a Shut-In for Once
When it comes to homes that catch our eyes and hearts, the devil is in the details. That's where new shutters come in — for very little investment, you can make your home "the one with the adorable shutters."
Average Cost: Spend $100 to $300 to repair your existing shutters, or about $730 to $2,700 for all-new window dressings.
9. Reinvigorate Interior Doors, Too
Don't forget to repair those creaky interior doors while you're at. You know, the ones that are warped from the heat or cold, sticking and swelling in their frames? They're not directly exposed to the elements on the daily, so you're more likely to be able to repair worn out interior doors rather than replace them altogether.
Average Cost: About $220 to repair each door.
10. Don’t Underestimate the Kitchen Remodel
According to the TD Bank survey, 54 percent of people planned on using their HELOC to remodel the kitchen, so you're not alone if this room is your priority. In fact, kitchen upgrades perceived as "modern" — like stainless steel and quartz countertops or Shaker cabinets — can bump your home's sale price by 3 to 7 percent. No matter what kitchen renovations you choose to make, though, do your research before signing on the dotted line. "Consult with real estate brokers and architects in the area that you live," said Sidney Torres, host of CNBC's "The Deed." "Go see the past work of the contractors before committing to one."
Average Cost: Including appliances, the average kitchen remodel costs homeowners about $21,600, though smaller revamps — like a combo of painting, refinishing the fixtures and adding a backsplash — range between $10,000 and $15,000.
Don't Miss: Sneaky Expenses of Renovating Your Home
11. Amp Up the Appliances
When approaching the kitchen remodel, never neglect appliances. The fridge and stove are what make the kitchen run — outdated versions of these can not only make the room feel old, they can actually reduce the quality of your food, whether you're storing or cooking it.
If a full-scale kitchen remodel isn't quite in the budget, just refreshing the appliances can add plenty of value and efficiency. In fact, 27 percent of people choose to use their HELOC specifically for purchasing new appliances, according to the TD Bank survey.
Average Cost: You've got lots of flexibility here — EnergyStar compliant kitchen appliances range from about $200 to $3,500 each.
12. Choose Classic Hardwood
It's a fact of life that people love the warmth, durability and timeless style hardwood floors add to a space — that goes for both buyers and home dwellers. And as a bonus, a new wood floor usually nets you a cost recovery of about 91 percent.
Average Cost: Roughly $5,500 for all new wood floors, or about $2,500 for a hardwood refinish from the pros.
13. Or Save on Floors
In general, $600 to $900 spent on new flooring delivers a return of up to $2,000, so don't be afraid to upgrade even if you can't swing hardwood. New carpet and versatile laminate are classic standbys, while newer options like cork or even uber-modern stained cement can help your place take a few steps closer to "dream house" status.
Average Cost: A wood-like laminate install starts at $1,400 and can go up to $4,000, while carpeting jobs range from about $745 to $2,450.
14. Resuscitate Your Staircase
If your staircase creaks every time you set foot on it, consider putting some of that HELOC toward a recovery effort. In addition to totally busting you on midnight snack runs, a creaky staircase could indicate loose steps or wobbly railings, and you never want to skimp on safety.
Average Cost: At a national average cost of about $300 to $900, including flooring and railings, there's little reason to neglect this project.
15. Give the Master Bath a Boost
For a typically small space, there's a whole lot of remodeling to be done in the bathroom. That's probably the reason 46 percent of people chose this room for the prime use of their HELOC. Go big with a full remodel of your master bathroom, including new fixtures, tub, flooring, cabinets, countertops and lighting, or trim your budget by just focusing on a few essentials.
Average Cost: The average bathroom remodel runs about $9,275, but by focusing on your bathroom's trouble spots, you can pare that down to about $3,500 to $7,000.
16. Remaster Your Bedroom
When it comes to home remodeling, we talk a lot about money. But investment return aside, the National Association of Realtors finds that a revamped master bedroom is one of the projects that makes owners happiest — and that's a stat that should never be undervalued. Paint, trim, lighting, flooring and all-new storage solutions can refresh your bedroom's value as well as your outlook on sleeping there.
Average Cost: Costs run about $3,175 for a 400 to 500 square-foot space.
17. Spruce Up the Guest Bathroom
Not every remodel has to be on a grand scale, especially when you have a budget to stick to. Smaller jobs like refreshing the caulk, ditching frosted glass for clear doors and updating fixtures can really tune up an extra bathroom — and that little bit of work could be all that your second bathroom needs for a new lease on life.
Average Cost: Stick to cosmetic changes to keep your bathroom remodel budget at a manageable average of about $1,800 to $2,400.
18. Build in Some Shelves
Maybe it's the tiny home craze, but there's just something immensely satisfying about a space with lots of handy built-in storage nooks. The good news is, home buyers think so too — trendy features like Shaker cabinets often encourage homes to sell for nearly 10 percent more than expected.
Average Cost: You'll likely pay between $2,000 and $5,000 for materials and labor on built-in cabinetry, entertainment nooks and bookcases, or you can drastically reduce costs by going the DIY route and spending about $500 or less on materials to install yourself.
19. Glitz Up the Guest Rooms
Though it makes sense to prioritize the master bedroom, including your home's additional rooms in the remodel can lend the project a more complete feeling. These smaller spaces will need the same sorts of upgrades as the master bedroom — lighting, storage, flooring and so on — but they'll cost a little less here.
Average Cost: About $2,685 for a 300 to 400 square-foot space.
20. Lighten Up
Windows are only one half of the lighting equation. With options ranging from smart lighting to recessed lights to traditional lighting fixtures, your options for overhauling your home's lighting are just as flexible as your HELOC's payment options.
Average Cost: Purchased and installed, a basic lighting fixture lies in the $200 range, while recessed lights cost about $40 more to buy and install. If you're having functional issues, spend $500 to $600 for lighting circuit installation.
21. Dim It Down
According to the TD Bank survey, the biggest reason 34 percent of people want to renovate their homes is simply because they don't like the look of them anymore. But you'd be surprised how different a room can feel with different lighting.
For a cozy vibe, consider installing a dimmer switch for those new lights. The good news is, you don't have to do a full-on lighting refresh for this project — dimmer switches can be installed at any time, and the installation only takes a few hours.
Average Cost: You'll spend an average of about $60 to $135 per dimmer switch installation.
22. Switch Out Your Plates
At 58 percent, the majority of survey respondents said they were looking for a loan of less than $50,000. If you're also working with a smaller HELOC, here's a great budget-friendly fix: swap out your tired light switch plates. Designer plates — from warm wood to sleek stainless steel — can match your paint trim or lend an entirely new vibe to the room.
Average Cost: Depending on how fancy you go, you can nab six plates for a little under $70 or a bit over $200, on average.
23. Refresh the Walls
Painting your interior walls is one of the smallest home improvement investments you can make, but it can still bump your home's value by up to 2 percent. Painting is a perennial DIY project that really fills the space with your unique personality, though if you're planning on selling, sticking with neutral colors is the safest bet.
Average Cost: You can repaint a room DIY-style for about $300, or hire a crew to re-do the whole place for an average of about $1,700.
24. Open Your Mind (and Your Floorplan)
Creating openness is one of the most crucial things you can do to elevate your space — especially if you have a small space that you want to feel bigger. Consult a structural engineer first, then get rid of those pass-through walls and think about creating new nooks and flex rooms to boost your home's value by up to 6 percent.
Average Cost: Surprisingly, labor costs for removing an interior wall — typically about a five-hour process — only clock in at about $80 to $200 on average. Account for up to $300 worth of debris disposal fees, though.
25. Create a Gateway to Nature
Welcome more light and get easy access to your backyard by installing a sliding glass door in place of a wall. Opting for some glass between you and your yard — rather than brick, for example — makes your space feel more airy, and might just encourage you to get a little more sun.
Average Cost: $80 to $200 to knock out the wall, and about $1,100 to $2,500 to install the sliding glass.
26. Splurge on a Pool
It might not exactly be budget friendly, but sometimes, you have to spend a little on yourself — you've earned it. But keep in mind, this is a project to do for your own personal happiness if you're home for the long haul. Keep in mind, installing a pool has one of the lowest returns on investment of any home improvement project out there.
Average Cost: For an inground pool, expect an average reported cost of $42,000.
27. Install a Patio
Summer barbecues, evening wine tasting with the breeze in your hair and safe spaces for family pets to roam are priceless. A patio comes at a price, but it's not a frivolous use of your HELOC by any means — consider this a mid-level investment for a lot of return on personal happiness.
Average Cost: Most homeowners drop about $1,750 to $4,600 on a patio installation.
28. Take Back the Backyard
If you've already re-greened your front yard, think of what you can do to differentiate the backyard space. While the front yard has to have curb appeal, the backyard is more of a private sanctuary, so consider equipping it with features that are both comforting and distinct.
Average Cost: In terms of projects that add character, a backyard pond usually runs about $3,000 while installing an arbor, pergola or trellis costs an average of $3,440.
29. Bedeck Your Yard
The beauty of a deck is that it increases your living space without adding any walls to your house. To keep things on budget, shoot for under 500 square feet — that's plenty of space for your new grill and all the outdoor furniture you could want.
Average Cost: A 200 square-foot deck can be done for about $5,000, but plan for an average cost of $7,000 if you want something closer to 500 square feet.
30. Expand Altogether
Remember that a HELOC's selling point is ease of access to funds. If your home renovation plans take on a grander design — for example, if you decide you want to include a home gym — expanding the space altogether is a viable option.
In terms of return on investment, expanding the square footage of your home packs the biggest punch — something you'll want to keep in mind if you're like the 35 percent of survey respondents who wanted to renovate their homes to increase their property value first and foremost.
Average Cost: As a rule of thumb, budget for $80 to $200 per square foot of your new dream house.