If you want to get the most bang for your buck on home improvement projects, take your to-do list to the outdoors.

Exterior of Brick Home with Garage Door
Credit: jimkruger/Getty Images

Unless you're one of the lucky few who move into a house that's absolutely perfect for you, we all start making that ideal home renovation to-do list fairly soon after moving into a new home (and often even before we get the keys). Some changes are more pressing while others remain dream items that we say we'll get to someday. However, if you're planning on making significant changes to your house in 2019, it's worth considering the resale value of those renovation projects before committing to anything.

Even if you don't think you'll be moving anytime soon, it's wise to consider how any changes you make to your home will end up affecting its value—whether it's something less noticeable like replacing the roof or more major like building out a master suite addition. You certainly don't want to assume every change you make is going to pay for itself by the time you do sell your house when the fact is that many projects don't.

So which projects are going to give you the biggest bang for your buck? According to Remodeling magazine's annual Cost vs. Value Report, the best place to invest your home improvement money in 2019 is on the outside of your home. The magazine polls contractors around the country to get average costs for a variety of home renovation projects and then polls realtors to gauge the value those projects have when it comes time to price a house to sell.

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Two projects that have nearly 100 percent return on investment are garage door replacement and adding a stone veneer accent to the front facade of a house. While neither of these projects may seem particularly exciting or change your everyday life inside the house, they make a big impact on curb appeal, which understandably can increase a home's value to potential buyers. Other exterior updates that are shown to recoup most of the cost spent are getting new windows for your house, adding a wooden deck, and installing a new steel front door. In the South, where curb appeal and outdoor living are a significant aspect of most people's lifestyles, these are wise improvements to make to your home.

If you're more interested in interior updates (especially if they're for your own enjoyment for the foreseeable future), you certainly shouldn't feel discouraged from spending money on those projects. But there is a window of how much you spend—and how significant of changes you make—that will optimize the value of your home in the long run.

According to the Cost vs. Value Report, the project with the third-highest cost recouped rate (at 80.5 percent) is a midrange minor kitchen remodel. That would entail replacing cabinet fronts (but keeping the existing boxes and therefore layout) and installing new countertops, hardware, energy efficient appliances, and flooring. With an average cost of $22,500, those changes are found to add $18,000 in value to your house. By comparison, a major kitchen renovation could cost upwards of $66,000 but only add around $41,000 in value. As with any major expense, it's most important to evaluate your own personal budget and see what you can afford to spend and then decide how to spend it. But if your immediate goal is to increase the value of your home in advance of listing it on the market, a little research can go a long way in helping you spend wisely.