Hands down, one of the biggest returns on investment comes from a kitchen remodel. Most experts agree that if you plan on updating only one room in your home, it should be the kitchen. Large, open kitchens have become the social hub of the modern home. High-end touches like granite countertops, richly stained custom cabinets and energy-efficient stainless appliances are the gold standard in modern kitchens. Experts agree that kitchen remodels return an average of 80 to 85 percent of every dollar spent. You can expect an even higher return if you are remodeling a really outdated kitchen.

The amount of money you spend each month on energy costs may seem like a fixed amount, but many local utility companies provide free energy audits of their customers' homes. They can show you how to maximize the energy efficiency of your home. An energy-efficient home will save you money now, which can be applied to other updates, and is a more valuable and marketable asset in the long run.

Only 7 percent of handymen and painters say they routinely are tipped, though 28 percent say they receive tips for service that goes above and beyond. Remodeling companies expect a tip 6 percent of the time, with 18 percent tipped for top-notch service. Half of remodeling firms say their gratuities come in the form of food and drink, gift cards or personalized gifts.
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