This is the third installment of a new occasional column called Getting Real About Renovations. We’re looking at renovation realities for all sorts of projects, from hardwood floors and open floorplans, to master suite additions and kitchen upgrades. We’ll give you the unadulterated truth about options, costs, effort, Realtor opinion, and estimated ROI for these projects. You can read the last one about garage doors here.
When people think of home renovations, things like “new kitchen” and “hardwood floors” typically come to mind. But when it comes to bang for your buck — and it might not be as sexy as a new vaulted ceiling or bathroom tile treatment — you really can’t beat adding insulation.
Both nationally and in Dallas, the top home remodeling projects last year were those that increased the functionality and sustainability of the home. They did this by improving either a home’s drive-up appeal or energy efficiency, according to the 2016 Cost vs. Value Report by the National Association of Realtors and Remodeling magazine.
Fiberglass attic insulation, which increases a home’s energy efficiency, ranked among the top five most profitable projects nationwide. In Dallas, it recouped 100.9 percent of initial investment, based on an average project cost of $1,482, according to that report.
“I think adding insulation is a great ROI in most cases —it is relatively inexpensive, as compared with radiant barrier, HVAC, solar panels, and a lot of other energy efficiency features,” said Kay Wood, a Realtor with Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty. “There are also sometimes incentives from Oncor or federal tax credits for increasing the efficiency of your home. I always encourage clients to think about how long they plan to stay in their home and how long it looks like it will take to see that savings pay for their investment. Energy efficiency and green features can also improve resale.”
Another recent report, the 2015 Remodeling Impact Report from the National Association of Realtors and National Association of the Remodeling Industry, estimates a 95 percent return on investment for insulation upgrades, with an average project cost of $2,050. It does not clarify the specific type of insulation.
Here’s their breakdown of the metrics on consumers’ viewpoint after completing the project:
- Top reason for doing the project: to improve energy efficiency (71 percent)
- Most important result: better energy efficiency (30 percent)
- About 61 percent of homeowners have a greater desire to be home since completing the project, and 61 percent have a major sense of accomplishment when they think of the project
- Joy score: 8.7 out of 10
“At my last home, I used an Oncor subsidy and a tax credit to help pay for insulation and radiant barrier at my 1930s cottage,” said Wood. “The energy savings, along with the incentives, paid for the whole thing in less than three years, and after that, we just got to enjoy the lower bills and more comfortable house in the summer!”
Realtor Alison Houpt-Howell, also with Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty, agreed, saying attic insulation is a low-cost investment that can save a homeowner hundreds, if not thousands, in terms of the length of time they plan on spending at their current residence.
“From today’s discerning buyer’s standpoint, knowing that you can purchase an older home full of character that also has energy-efficient features is a win-win in today’s competitive market,” Houpt-Howell said. “I cannot see any reason why someone would not consider adding attic insulation to their home.”
Michael Reynolds, a Realtor with UResidential, had some closing thoughts:
“Adding insulation is one of the most cost effective ways to increase value on my clients’ homes,” Reynolds said. “Not to mention, new insulation assists in helping with the rising cost of electricity, which is huge for homeowners.”