- Days left
Remodeling projects pay offThe best kind of house to own is one that needs love. Even in the current downtrodden market, the price for a fixer-upper is significantly less than you'll pay for a home on which someone has lavished attention.

The good thing about buying a fixer-upper is you're not paying extra for someone else's idea of what looks great. You can put your own stamp on the property – make it just the way you like it – and still not spend as much as you'd probably pay if you bought the nicest house in the neighborhood.

Every year Remodeling Magazine does its Cost vs. Value Report. The latest report points out that despite declining home prices, the cost of materials and even labor haven't fallen very much. So when you calculate the percentage of return on improvements compared to the value of the home when they are finished, the result isn't very impressive. For some improvements like a home office remodel, which was hot a few years ago, the return looks really shabby.

You can see for yourself what pays off and what doesn't, but keep in mind, the prices cited here are probably higher than many of us do-it-yourselfers would ever pay. Even if you hire out just part of the work, you can save a bundle over the pricing in this report.

One of the best payoffs, according to this report, is getting rid of an old, wooden or fiberglass front door in favor of a new steel one. The cost referenced here is $1,172 installed, and that drives the value of the house up $1,470 or 128.9% of the cost recouped. Even if that's only half true, it's a job worth doing because a tight front door keeps out cold in the winter and heat in the summer. Plus, good security can make you feel safe and, maybe, even lower your insurance bill if you have green homeowner's insurance like this policy from Fireman's Fund.

You can certainly find a basic model, six-panel steel door at Home Depot or Lowe's. I found a plain but adequate one on sale for $99 that spruced up the look of the non-waterside entrance to my house on the lake. I hired a local carpenter to install it for $200, so the whole project cost me a little more than $300.

Because this door was Energy Star approved and met the standard for the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008, I also could take a 10% federal energy tax credit this year -- or next, if I had purchased the door this year. Plus, the state of Michigan, where I live, offers a 30% state tax credit on the cost of the door. Most other states are offering similar deals.

Because tax credits are dollar-for-dollar subtractions from the amount of tax owed, they are particularly attractive benefits. They give my new door a special sheen.

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Investing in Real Estate

Learn the basics of investing in real estate.

View Course »

Getting out of debt

Everyone hates debt. Get out of it.

View Course »

TurboTax Articles

Video: Tax Guidelines About Gifting

Note: Some of the content of this video applies only to taxes prepared prior to 2012. It is included here for reference only. Find out the tax guidelines about gifting with help from TurboTax in this video on tax tips.

Video: What are Income Tax Rates?

Note: The content of this video applies only to taxes prepared for 2010. It is included here for reference only. Income tax rates change depending on both the amount of money you make and how you made it. Find out about income tax rates with help from TurboTax in this video on tax tips.

Video: How To Reduce Errors on Your Tax Return

Did you know that errors on your tax return can affect the amount of your tax bill and the amount of time it takes to get a refund? Fortunately, TurboTax helps you avoid errors AND be sure you're getting all the tax deductions and credits you deserve.

Does Your Company Need to File Form 1095-B?

A company is responsible for filing IRS Form 1095-B only if two conditions apply: It offers health coverage to its employees, and it is "self-insured." This means that the company itself pays its employees' medical bills, rather than an insurance company. A company that doesn't meet both conditions won't have to deal with Form 1095-B. Its employees might still receive a 1095-B, but from their insurer, not the employer.

Video: Who Qualifies for an Affordable Care Act Exemption (Obamacare)?

The Affordable Care Act requires all Americans to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty. But, who qualifies for an Affordable Care Act exemption? Find out more about who qualifies for an exemption from the Affordable Care Act tax penalty, how to claim an exemption on your tax return and how the Affordable Care Act may affect your taxes with this video from TurboTax.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum