By now, most of us are aware of the traditional ways to increase the value of our home; kitchen, bathroom remodels, new paint, new landscaping etc. One of the new concepts I have discovered that is in greater demand with buyers and I've verified this with reliable market data and closed sales analysis, is the modernization of an existing home's floor plan. Typically, the home will be built pre 1980 and the high end of the value range for the neighborhood will support your anticipated increase in value. These new floor plans consist of a nonexistent or downsized living room (8' x 6' range with three walls). A family or great room adjacent to the kitchen. Arched, A-Frame or Barrel ceiling with skylight or high wall windows. Generally, fewer walls and more open space. The major hurdle to this is determining if any load bearing walls will be effected and if so, what will need to be done to adhere to city code. A qualified licensed professional is recommended.
A second floor laundry room or laundry chute that leads to the first floor laundry room. A bedroom adjacent or near the garage with a separate entrance. This can double as an easy access office, older child bedroom or rental room. Outdoor kitchen with adjacent patio, partially covered. Low maintenance landscaping with "drip" sprinkler system. Of course any additional bedrooms or bathrooms will increase value - pending typical neighborhood amenities. All of these value adding upgrades can be done without increasing your livable sq.ft. and having to deal with the permits associated with it.
As a CHEERS Certified Energy Efficiency Rater I can tell you that any energy efficiency or "green" upgrades will also add value to your home, maybe not as immediate - see future post.