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The best reason to take on a home-improvement project is to make your home a better place for you and your family, but these projects can get expensive, and homeowners who know they may move in the future want to get their money's worth. While most projects, if done well, will increase the value of your home, not everything is a good return on your investment. For example, spending $40,000 to install an in-ground swimming pool may only increase the value of your home $10,000, and if it's not a pool kind of neighborhood, it may not increase the value at all. Below is a list of backyard projects that generally provide a high return on the time and money you invest.
Decks: Decks are one of the most popular (and most profitable) backyard home improvement choices. Because they make the perfect entertaining area, any potential home buyer will look favorably upon a well-maintained deck. Tip: The stained wood look is attractive, but using paint means the deck will require far less maintenance (stains need to be reapplied every year or two).
Patios: Serving a similar function as decks, patios are a good choice, especially on single-story homes. Cement is the most common patio material, costing $2-$4 per square foot. For a more elegant look, you can use brick which costs $10-$20 depending on how elaborate of a style you create.
Gazebos: Gazebos aren't as common as decks and patios for home-improvement projects, but it is in fact that rarity that gives them their appeal. You need not build a large gazebo (unless it's going to double as shelter for a hot tub or some such); a cozy romantic area for two provides an attractive getaway that will impress potential homeowners.
Storage Sheds: Storage sheds can add value to your home because they increase the square footage and provide a place for boats, lawnmowers, camping equipment, or other items that need a place to live, but not necessarily inside the house. If your intention is to increase the value of your home, don't go for one of the cheap pre-fab sheds made out of plastic or light-gauge metal. Instead, build your shed out of wood and paint it to match the house.
Outdoor Lighting: Outdoor lighting can both enhance the beauty of your home and increase its security (burglars prefer dark shady nooks instead of well-lit exteriors). While most potential homeowners visit during the day, if they decide they like the house, they may very well take a drive-by at night to further check it out, so this is a relatively low cost improvement that can increase salability of your home. It is important that outdoor lights (i.e. their placement and distribution) look professional, however. If you want to take on this project yourself, try consulting a simple how-to book such as Indoor & Outdoor Lighting Solutions.
Backyard Home Improvement Projects That Don't Make the Cut:
Swimming pools, hot tubs, and playground equipment don't usually improve the value of the house enough to warrant installation based on financial considerations alone. This is not to say you should never consider installing any of these things, just that you want to make sure you do it because it's what your family wants, not because you hope for a big payoff on your investment when you sell the home.
Source: 101 Cost-Effective Ways to Increase the Value of Your Home