Improvements Your Home Needs Every 5, 10, 15, and 20 Years — And What They’ll Cost You

As a homeowner, you know that updating your house is the key to creating a functional space that maintains value. You also know that keeping track of everything your home needs is enough to make your head spin. We’ve got you covered if you need help planning and budgeting for home projects.

We’ve created a home improvement timeline to help you prepare for replacement and renovation costs over the years. We’ve listed projects to complete every 5, 10, 15, and 20 years so you can keep your home in tip-top shape.

Renovations, Replacements, and Improvements Your Home Needs

Every 5 Years

The Project: Repaint Interior Walls

Repainting interior walls is one of the easiest, most cost-effective ways to freshen your home. PaintRite Pros suggests repainting interior walls every three to five years to revive your space and cover any damage. Pair a paint job with other remodeling projects to give your home a new style.

Associated Costs

A professional painting job typically costs between $1.50-$3.50 per square foot. It will likely cost closer to $4 per square foot for ceiling and trim jobs. This calculator from the Wall Coverings Association can help you estimate the square footage of your home’s walls.

If you opt for a DIY painting job, there are still several costs involved. You’ll need paint rollers, brushes, painter’s tape, trays, and tarps. You’ll also need primer and paint, which can cost over $30 per quart. We suggest calculating these costs proactively to determine if a DIY job is worth the hassle or if hiring a professional painter is the right choice for you.

The Project: Replace the Trash Compactor

A trash compactor is a handy kitchen appliance that crushes garbage to create more space for disposal. These devices can help homeowners save money on trash collection fees by reducing the volume of waste the home produces.

Depending on the level of maintenance and upkeep, your compactor could last up to 10 years. However, if your compactor starts making odd noises or experiencing clogs by year five, it’s time for a replacement.

Associated Costs

New trash compactors typically run between $1,000 and $1,500. You’ll likely pay around $300-$500 for installation and labor fees, so factor these costs in before deciding on a service.

The Project: Partial Bathroom Remodel

A partial bathroom remodel is the perfect way to update your home every five years. Remodels don’t have to be intensive, unaffordable projects; instead, we suggest updating paint colors, cabinet finishes, fixtures, and lighting to refresh the space without blowing your budget.

A full bathroom renovation, also known as a “gut job,” involves replacing appliances, plumbing, flooring, and tiling. You’re better off leaving projects of this magnitude for every 10-15 years.

Associated Costs

A partial bathroom remodel can cost anywhere from $1,200-$7,000, depending on your bathroom type and what you decide to change. These prices also include labor costs, which you’ll absorb if you hire a pro for the project.

The National Kitchen and Bathroom Association provides the following tips for saving on a bathroom remodel:

  • Buy your own fixtures instead of relying on the contractor to provide them.
  • Avoid relocating items like tubs, toilets, and vanities. Keeping items where they are can save you up to $2,000.
  • Paint the walls yourself instead of hiring a professional. Bathrooms are typically small, so the job shouldn’t be too time-consuming.
  • Opt for simpler tile designs if you want to save money. Intricate designs cost more for materials and installation.

The Project: Replace Outdated Carpet

Replacing outdated or heavily-used carpet is a home improvement to complete every five years. After several years of traffic and messes, the carpet is bound to become frayed, faded, and probably a little dirty. Replacing the flooring with an updated material is a great way to freshen your home and improve its value.

Some carpets can last up to 15 years, so keep this in mind before tearing out your floor and starting anew. You may need to address only heavy-traffic areas like hallways, doorways, stairs, and living areas every five years.

Associated Costs

Carpet replacement costs depend on the type of carpet and installation service you select. The carpet can cost anywhere from $1-$4 per square foot, while the padding – the material under the carpet – will be around $1 per square foot.

Installation costs depend entirely on the service you choose. Some home improvement retailers, like Home Depot, offer free installation if you buy carpet from the store.

Every 10 Years

The Project: Refinish Hardwood Floors

If your hardwood flooring starts to show age after a decade, it’s time to refinish. Refinishing hardwood floors involves sanding down the top layer of the wood and applying a fresh stain to its surface. This project is an excellent way to refresh your hardwood and cure it of scuffs, fading, and discoloration.

Associated Costs

If you hire a flooring contractor to refinish your hardwood, you’ll likely look at around $5-$7 per square foot. This cost includes sanding the floor and applying a sealant. If your floor is in decent shape with no serious scuffs of discoloration, you can get away with just recoating it – a project that will cost around $3-$5 per square foot.

If you opt for a DIY refinish, you’ll pay for a sander rental, sealants, and tools. Hardwood sealants cost around $60-$80 per gallon, so your cost will depend on how much you need for your floor. You can buy a paint roller for about $10 and rent a sanding drum for $65 a day.

The Project: Replace the Water Heater

You should consider replacing your home’s water heater if it’s over a decade old. These systems can last up to 12 years with proper maintenance, but they often show a decline in efficiency by year 10. Regardless of your system’s age, you should replace it if it starts producing murky or cool water, leaking, rusting, or making odd noises.

Associated Costs

According to Forbes, the average cost to replace a water heater sits around $1,200 for the system and installation. Depending on the model and size, the price range can extend from $800-$10,000. If you hire a plumbing contractor to install your new water heater, you might pay between $45 and $150 per hour for labor.

The Project: Replace the Dishwasher

Dishwashers typically last between seven and 10 years. You can make the most of your dishwasher’s life span by performing routine maintenance like cleaning the filter and door seals.

No matter how well you care for the device, it will need repairs at some point. A general rule of thumb is that if repair costs exceed 50% of the cost to replace the device, you should choose a replacement. Consider replacing the system regardless if it’s 10 years old or more.

Associated Costs

You’ll likely pay around $650 to replace your dishwasher. If you select a high-end model, this price can skyrocket past $3,000. Regardless of the dishwasher you choose, you’ll also pay for installation fees, which average around $200.

The Project: Replace the Microwave

Microwaves typically last up to 10 years with proper cleaning and maintenance. However, once your microwave passes the 10-year mark, it’s time for a replacement. After this age, most models lack efficiency and exhibit signs of irreparable wear and tear.

Associated Costs

Built-in microwave ovens generally cost between $700 and $1,500. Installation fees for these devices will tack on another $100-$200. If you purchase a countertop model that doesn’t require professional installation, you’re looking at $300-$500 for the new appliance.

The Project: Replace Your Laundry Appliances

Select Home Warranty recommends replacing your clothes washer and dryer every 10 years. After a decade, these appliances lose effectiveness and probably aren’t performing to their full potential. Your dryer may take too long to dry loads, and the washer may leak water from the door. These problems aren’t just frustrating – they’ll drive up your monthly utility bills.

Once the devices reach 10 years old, you should start considering replacements to prevent more costly issues down the road. However, if your laundry appliances start exhibiting issues after 8 years old, you should replace them instead of paying for repairs.

Associated Costs

Washer and dryer sets typically cost between $1,200 and $2,200 to replace, with higher-end models around $4,000. Laundry appliance hookup installation typically costs between $400-$800. You’ll only have to pay for hookups if you’re moving your laundry appliances to a new room or building a new laundry area.

If you’re replacing an old system, you’ll already have appliance hookups, which will greatly reduce installation costs to around $100. You’ll avoid those installation costs altogether if you install the appliances yourself.

Every 15 Years

The Project: Replace Asphalt Roofing

Asphalt shingles are the most cost-effective roof material, but they also have the shortest life span. If your home has an asphalt roof, you should consider replacing it 15 years after installation, especially if you see damage or missing shingles.

Note that asphalt roofs can last up to 30 years with proper maintenance. However, the material is prone to cracking and curling, so you may need to replace it earlier if you live in a severe weather area or slack on upkeep.

Associated Costs

As we noted, asphalt shingles are one of the most affordable roofing materials. A new asphalt roof typically costs between $5-$8 per square foot, which means a 2,000-square-foot roof replacement could cost up to $16,000.

The Project: Central AC Replacement

The United States Department of Energy (DOE) recommends replacing your home’s central air conditioning unit every 15-20 years. The DOE estimates replacing older models can save you up to 40% on energy costs. If your home’s AC system is older than 10 years, you should replace it as soon as possible for improved cooling and higher energy efficiency. Otherwise, consider upgrading the system every 15 years to ensure your home has an updated, functional model.

Associated Costs

Central AC replacements typically cost $5,000 to $10,000. Installation costs and labor taxes can tack on up to $10,500, which drives the total price well past $15,000 for the whole project.

The Project: Partial Kitchen Remodel

After about 15 years, you may want to consider remodeling your kitchen. Kitchen upgrades are especially useful for potential sellers; Zillow estimates U.S. homeowners will see an 80% return on investment rate for minor kitchen remodels. Even if you aren’t planning to sell, a partial kitchen remodel will provide you the benefits of upgraded appliances, higher energy efficiency, and a fresh new look.

Consider the following tasks for the project:

  • Replace outdated kitchen appliances with upgraded, higher efficiency models
  • Upgrade sink and light fixtures
  • Install new countertops
  • Repaint cabinets and install a new backsplash
  • Upgrade drawer pulls and cabinet handles

Associated Costs

A mid-range kitchen remodel will likely cost a little over $20,000. This price heavily depends on what features you include in your remodel; appliance replacements, countertops, and flooring will be the most expensive. Partial renovations don’t involve tearing down walls or cabinets, so the price mainly encompasses replacing old items with newer models.

Suppose you replaced all of your major kitchen appliances – refrigerator, oven, stovetop, dishwasher, and built-in microwave – with this package from Samsung. In that case, you’d pay around $4,500 for the appliances and $400 for installation. New granite countertops can cost up to $60 per square foot, bringing a 30-square-foot replacement to $1,800.

If you stick to minor home improvements like updating light fixtures, doorknobs, and paint, your cost will be much lower.

Every 20 Years

The Project: Install New Aluminum Gutters

Like any part of your home, the gutters will deteriorate over time and need replacements to operate efficiently. If you have aluminum gutters, you’ll likely need to replace them every 20 years or so to prevent corrosion from rendering them useless. You may need to replace the system sooner if your home is in a humid or severe weather area.

Associated Costs 

Aluminum gutters cost an average of $9 per linear foot. You’ll pay around $1,800 to install new aluminum gutters around a 200-square foot perimeter. In addition to the cost of the gutter materials, you’ll also pay installation and labor fees if you hire a professional. You can significantly cut your costs by installing the gutters yourself, but you risk improper installation and injury.

The Project: Replace Wooden Fencing

The Fence Authority says a well-maintained wooden fence should last well over 20 years. However, if your fence shows signs of damage or deterioration by year 20, it’s time for a replacement.

If you’re struggling to decide whether a fence repair or replacement is the right choice, use this rule of thumb: If a repair involves replacing over 20% of the fence’s panels, you should replace the entire thing to save in the long run.

Associated Costs

On average, a new wooden fence costs between $2,000 and $4,500 for materials, labor, and installation. Depending on the linear footage of your fence, you’ll have cost fluctuations, as larger fences require more installation time and materials and vice versa. Wooden fences generally cost between $15 and $30 per linear foot, so you can use this estimate to better determine the cost of your specific project.

The Project: Replace Windows

You’ll typically need to replace your windows every 20-25 years to keep them in top shape. Their life span will vary depending on the installation method and exterior conditions. You may need to replace a window earlier if it’s letting in drafts, leaking, cracking, or letting outside temperatures affect your home.

Associated Costs

Window replacements cost between $400 and $1,000 per window. Zen Windows, Inc. estimates that a full-home window replacement would cost between $8,000 and $12,000. Replacing a standard vinyl window without special features is the cheapest way to go. Models with increased temperature control, latching features, and customization will increase your price.

The Project: Replace Light Switches

Light switches typically last around 20 years before exhibiting any problems. Luckily, you don’t need to replace the switches if they’re operating properly, but you’ll want to replace them ASAP once wear and tear takes over.

Common signs you need new switches:

  • Crackling sounds coming from the fixture
  • Heat coming from the switch
  • A delay between flipping the switch and the light coming on
  • Loose or wiggly switches that don’t “snap” when you flip them

Even if your light switches operate properly, you may want to replace them for cosmetic reasons. For example, a replacement will improve your home’s appearance if an outlet cover shows discoloration or has an outdated aesthetic.

Associated Costs

Replacing a light switch will cost you between $65 and $125, depending on the switch model you select and the required updates to your home’s electrical wiring. Installing a new switch and wiring a new fixture can cost up to $400 for labor, materials, and installation.

The Project: Replace Wood Shake Roof

Roof Advisor recommends replacing wood shake roofing every 20-25 years. Your replacement timeline may be on the lower end of that range if your roof frequently withstands severe weather like high winds and heavy rains. Otherwise, wood roofs can last up to 30 years with mild outdoor conditions and proper maintenance.

Associated Costs

According to Bill Ragan Roofing, a new cedar shake roof costs around $25 per square foot. This cost will fluctuate depending on the home’s roof complexity and the number of stories. More complex roof designs increase the price to around $30 per square foot to compensate for the increased difficulty and installation time. Considering these cost estimates, a new roof for a 2,000-square foot home could be $50,000-$60,000.

Closing Thoughts

We hope this guide helps you feel more in control of your home’s renovation needs. With any home improvement project, planning and budgeting beforehand are key factors in your project’s success and the joy you get from it. By reading this article, you’ve already taken a huge step in your journey as a responsible, proactive homeowner.

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