historic home with few renovations

When renovating a house to sell it, many people sacrifice historical features in the name of modern amenities and efficiencies. But these upgrades actually end up removing value from the home and renovating the soul right out of the home. The best renovations to do before selling bring in upgrades and keep the soul.

This is especially true of historic homes. If you’re worried about efficiency or money, there are many modern products that can help bring homes up to date. This way, you’re giving the new owners a move-in ready home while still giving them the chance to restore the house as they desire.


Best Renovations to do Before Selling

The best renovations to do before selling are those that take the least amount of time and provide the most value.  You want to get a good return on investment while providing the most benefit to the buyer. To find those, you need less overwhelming, simpler fixes.

Redfin lists windows and floors as two “More Expensive Options That Pay Off” when trying to sell a house. Here are some suggestions that make them cost less and pay off even more.


Should I Replace My Windows Before I Sell My House?

should i replace my windows before i sell my house?

Wood window frames made years ago of old-growth wood are irreplaceable. Old-growth wood is sturdier, more pest and decay resistant, and contracts and expands less as weather changes. If you get replacement windows, you’re not only giving up these valuable frames, but the new windows will look out of place with the rest of your home. Every part of the home was designed as part of a grand plan by the architect.

Home improvements to make before selling need to include: energy efficiency, soundproofing, and appearance. You want the home to be as “move in ready” as possible.

window insert being installed by customer

“We recently put our house up for sale. We’ve lived in our home for 30 years and over that time, the adjacent roadway has gotten much busier. We didn’t notice the road noise, but got feedback from realtor that it was a problem. Replacement windows were expensive compared to Indow inserts. Measuring and installation were easy, and our realtor noticed an immediate difference. Highly recommend Indow.”

-Linda Ware


Window inserts increase the efficiency similar to modern windows. Replacement windows save an average of 15% on energy bills where window inserts save an average of 20%. They reduce outside noise by 50% – 70% and have an STC rating of 42 vs double-pane windows which have an STC rating of 28. They go on the inside of your windows without the need of hardware and can’t be seen from the outside of your home.

How Much Do New Floors Add to Home Value

Imagine walking on original tongue and groove wood floors. Now imagine walking on 100 year old linoleum flooring. Here’s a tip: you never have and you don’t want to. Wood floors can be sanded and refinished over and over until you sand down to where the tongue and groove connect. The same is not true for vinyl flooring.

Home improvements to make before selling: refinish wood floors instead of covering them up, or get rid of that old carpet. You can save money by doing the unskilled labor yourself. You can pull up anything covering the wood, buy the wood from an architectural salvage store, and then let a professional do the sanding and refinishing if you don’t feel up to the task.

wood floors in bedroom

What to Look for When Buying a Home

All of the advice for best renovations to do before selling can be applied to those searching for a home to buy. New amenities look flashy and can be alluring when doing a walk-through, but historic markers indicate the true value of the home underneath. It’s more than just “good bones” you’re looking for. The windows, floors, and details of a home tell you what it has seen and what can be restored.

Research the history of the house to see if there’s hidden treasure buried under carpet or behind drywall. You can do this by asking people in the neighborhood – you might strike gold and find someone who has lived there for a while. Or, you can dig up public records and archives about the home. This can also tell you if there have been any major upgrades or issues with the home.

Once you’re in, you can rip up, pull back most anything and restore what once was to its original glory. And the great thing is, these original features usually last much longer than the product covering them up.


So, Should I Replace My Windows Before I Sell My House?

closeup of Indow window insert used instead of replacing windows

No. Don’t strip a home of its unique details in the name of energy efficiency. Starting over with new materials (and the old ones ending up in landfill) doesn’t save as much energy as filling the home with energy-efficient appliances, adding weatherstripping, installing a smart thermostat, and adding insulation.

Even if you’re trying to save money, replacement windows cost $600 – $900 on average where window inserts cost $360 for an average window. That’s not including installation fees. Plus, replacement windows only have a 71% return on investment according to realtors. Nearly half the homeowners who complete this project to improve their energy efficiency and only 4% of realtors said this helps with closing a sale.