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Home improvement projects might be on the rise in 2015

Date posted:  11/13/14 08:15:00 AM Kitchen and bathroom remodels are still hot among homeowners.

Many real estate experts are predicting a solid year for home sales in 2015, but optimism for the housing market shouldn't end with property transactions. According to Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List, a large portion of homeowners plan to spend more on renovations in 2015 than those who completed projects in the previous year.

"According to our contractor survey, 25 percent of their consumers are planning to spend $10,000 or more on home improvements in 2015," Hicks told ABC.

Angie's List, which provides reviews of local businesses, reported more than 60 percent of homeowners who are in talks with a contractor plan to spend more on a renovation in 2015 compared to 2014. But it's not because projects are getting more expensive. Angie's List stated a growing number of Americans hope to tackle more substantial remodeling projects in the coming year.

What type of projects do people want?
There are a few slight changes in home remodeling trends, but the major draws continue to be in high-traffic areas such as the kitchen and bathroom. Hicks said bedroom remodeling jobs are also popular, and more people are starting to ask for bigger closets and extra pantry space.

Surprisingly, some former hot options such as granite countertops and stainless steel appliances are starting to lose appeal.

"Granite used to be a premium, but now it's everywhere," home builder Michael Munir told D Magazine. "Most apartments have granite now."

Munir suggested homeowners consider other countertop options such as engineered stone. And similar to granite, stainless steel is becoming more common in modern kitchens but also comes with a few problems.

"Many homeowners have a love hate relationship with stainless steel appliances," Hicks said. "They love the look, but tackling those fingerprints can just be a nightmare for some parents, but in 2015, we're still seeing stainless steel top the list."

Finding the best return on investment
Kitchens and bathrooms - along with adding additional square footage - still tend to provide homeowners with the best return on investment.

"If you're updating your home, remodeling your bathroom is one of your best returns on investment," Hicks said. "You're going to get probably 80 percent of your money back. But keep in mind, remodeling a bathroom is not a cheap project."

While average bathroom remodels used to cost around $15,000, Hicks said homeowners should expect it to cost $20,000 in the coming year, with costs as high as $50,000 for a major master bathroom remodel.

For those that target a bathroom or a kitchen, MoneySense recommended making those spaces modern and neutral because that will give homeowners the best chance to attract buyers at the time of resale.

Finding a balance between cost and need
If homeowners can't afford a major remodel, MoneySense said they can instead choose to upgrade certain areas of their homes to spruce up the space rather than shell out cash for a complete do-over. Refinishing kitchen cabinets, adding a fresh coat of paint or changing hardware are three easy ways to update a kitchen without the cost of a major renovation.

Jennifer Fordham, an interior decorator, told D Magazine she knows all about the trials and tribulations of coming in under budget. She said she does her best to educate clients about what things cost and what her clients need.

"I have to tell them that they don't need drawers in every single inch of the kitchen," she said. "You have to think about the odd-shaped things that won't fit in a drawer."

That's why it's important to be levelheaded when it comes to a renovation project.