Top 6 Exterior Home Remodels with Best ROI, Plus Costs

Here are the top six exterior home improvements to spruce up your home and your backyard:

1. Outdoor Kitchen


If you happen to live in a house with a nice backyard that gets plenty of sunshine, and you are the type of person who loves to entertain your guests and family outdoors, then investing in an outdoor kitchen can be a great way to make your home not only more valuable, but also more enjoyable. 😉

Cost-wise, an outdoor kitchen can cost anywhere from $7,500 to $35,000 for a fairly basic set-up, and between $50,000 and $100,000 for a more luxurious outdoor kitchen. On a per square foot basis, costs tend to run anywhere from $35 to $75 per sq. ft. depending on the choice of materials, the complexity of your design, and home’s geographic location.

ROI: If the upgrade you chose is appropriate for your area, and won’t price your home out of the market, then you can expect an ROI of up to 100% or more depending on the extent of work you had done and how suitable it’s for your particular house. To get the most bang for your buck, consider selling the home with an outdoor kitchen in the summer!

2. Deck


A deck can make a major difference in terms of curb appeal and enjoyment value for your home.

Cost-wise: a typical deck will range in price from $5,000 to $15,000 depending on the complexity of the design and the type of materials used. For DIY enthusiasts, a basic deck can be built for around $3,500. Average cost per square foot: $35 – $55, depending on the materials used, complexity of your design, and your home’s location.

ROI: Aside from a 100%+ return on enjoyment value and popularity with your friends and family, you can expect a return on investment of 80% to 100%, if you choose the right materials and appropriate design.

3. Pergola

Oh would it not be great to extend your home outdoors? That’s right, outdoors, where you can enjoy a bit of sun and fresh air, while also having a sense of shelter? That’s what a Pergola is! — An outdoor structure designed to shelter you from the sun.

There is not a better way to make your enjoyment of the backyard more stylish and fun. A pergola can be combined with a deck, or placed tastefully on your patio, with patio furniture right under the pergola. Pergolas can also be placed around outdoor kitchens.

Cost-wise: You can have a pergola professionally built for $3,000 to $5,000, depending on the complexity of your design. For DIY enthusiasts, a classy pergola can be built for around $1,000.

ROI: Like many other smaller outdoor home improvements, a pergola can have an ROI exceeding 100%, not too mention the enjoyment factor that a homeowner will derive from having a pergola in their property. 😉

The bottom line is that if your pergola is tastefully integrated with the rest of the features on your property, then you can easily recoup the cost of your investment. 😉

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Top 16 Shipping Container Homes in the US – How Much They Cost

Many people don’t know that shipping containers can be used for more than transporting merchandise across the ocean. You can actually build residential dwellings and custom-designed homes by assembling the old shipping containers!

A simple, multi-container home. Estimated cost $100,000 to $150,000.
via Back Country Containers

Not only can you build a fully-fledged, custom-designed home with all the bells and whistles of traditional construction, but even modern and trendy coffee shops, office spaces, apartment buildings, schools, and emergency shelters can be constructed utilizing re-purposed shipping containers.

The containers are made of steel, a durable material that is strong enough to be used for building and yet soft enough to be cut in suitable shapes. The fact that shipping containers are stack-able makes them a good option for creating homes and even office buildings that are several stories high! 😉

Did you know? Shipping container houses are expected to become more commonplace, as it’s estimated about 500,000 shipping containers are abandoned each year.

So, if a shipping container home build uses five standard shipping containers, around 17,500 kg (38581 lbs) worth of steel will be recycled. Not to mention that by building with containers you aren’t using other building materials, which helps reduce a tall on the environment.

Shipping Container Home Costs:

According to, there are two standard sizes for shipping containers: 20 x 8 x 8 ft. covering a surface of 160 sq. ft. and 40 x 8 x 8 with a surface of 320 sq. ft.

A used 20-footer container costs anywhere between $1,400 and $2,800, whereas a 40-footer costs $3,500 – $4,500.

You will also have to pay for labor (about $50-$150 per hour) and for the modifications needed to make the container livable.

Expect to pay at least $10,000 for labor, more likely $15,000 per container, plus permitting, planning, structural engineering and architectural design fees.

Ferndale container house


Located in Ferndale, Michigan, this 1,808 sq. ft. house was built with from 5 ½ shipping containers. It was sold for $415,000.

This high-end, contemporary home features three bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms, 9-foot ceilings, a second-floor, walkout balcony, and a fully-poured basement.

If you take a look inside, you will find a floating staircase tailored from wood and steel that leads to the living room, dining room and kitchen. The bedrooms and laundry are on the first floor.


Floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors at one end of the second story’s open floor plan lead onto a balcony that overlooks the backyard.

Ferndale home second-story 320 sq. ft. Trex balcony.

The kitchen features tiled backsplashes and a custom-made island made of reclaimed wood.


What the developer aimed to accomplish with this design: “Our goal is to set the standard in quality in this type of construction. You have no idea it’s made out of shipping containers,” said Stephanie Coyle, co-founder of Forever Home, who partnered with Dee Tignanelli, owner of Alpha to Omega Properties LLC, to build the house – their first made from shipping containers.

Coyle said she hopes their house will “remove the stigma that can sometimes be attached” to such homes, which are found throughout the world, but are a new concept to many. “It’s just a different way to build a home,” said Coyle. “Show people this type of construction can be beautiful, and let’s show you it can actually look and blend into a community.”

LoHi container house

LoHi container house

Via Prefab Container Homes

Located in Denver, this 2,192 sq. ft. house was built with 7 containers and was sold for $679,000.

Many people argue that shipping container house designs would somehow upset neighborhood associations because they don’t usually blend in with traditional homes.

We don’t think you should be concerned in the case of this house because it looks just like a regular home, the one difference being that it’s made of metal.

The house has a two-car garage and 2.5 bathrooms, which is more than ideal for a family of four or five people.

If you take a look inside, you will find the master bedroom that’s connected to the rooftop through a spiral staircase.

There are 2 additional bedrooms, a large living room with a kitchen island, and of course an office space for whoever works from home.

Ocean container house

Ocean container house California

Via Prefab Container Homes

Built in California and designed by Leger Wanaselja Architecture, this shipping container house looks stunning at dusk, measures 1350 sq. ft.

The three re-purposed shipping containers were insulated and modified to make the structure of this beautiful home.

Note the large windows that allow inhabitants to make use of natural light as much as possible. They also direct the attention away from the metal containers.

The roof is flat which is pretty much what you would expect from a shipping container house. This design also blends in a traditional neighborhood.

The Nest home

The Nest home

Via Prefab Container Homes

The Missouri University of Science and Technology built this design with 3 shipping containers to compete in the Solar Decathlon in 2015.

For those of you who don’t know, this is a competition where countries from all over the world are trying to build the most self sufficient house.

So, you will probably not be surprised when I say the house has photovoltaic panels, an HVAC system, a grey water collection system, automated lightning and 3 hydroponic gardens.

As for design, the metal is covered with refurbished shipping pallets, while carpeting is made of reused fishing nets. Insulation consists in recycled denim batting.

Ocean shipping container house in Kansas

Ocean shipping container house Kansas

Via Prefab Container Homes

This design features entire walls made of glass. Some would argue that it makes the house less energy efficient, but this can be resolved by purchasing Energy Star windows.

There is a small porch near the entrance door where you can put some outdoor furniture and enjoy a relaxed meal with your family.

Inside, the living room is very spacious as you can see in the pictures showed by the source website.

The metal walls were painted in a light blue shade to mix with the rest of the interior design elements while creating a warm feeling of harmony that is not what you would expect when looking at the exterior of the building.

Modular steel container home

Modular steel container home

Via Echotech Design

Built in the Mojave Desert, California, this house is made of 6 shipping containers and actually has its own water tank that can hold up to 10,000 gallons of water.

The construction is protected against wind and fire by a steel shade canopy with an integrated metal framing system.

The architects made sure the house withstands a harsh climate like the one of the Mojave Desert so they made it sustainable while keeping the afferent costs in mind.

According to the guys at Ecotech Design, the construction costs were far below the ones of a comparable prefabricated or manufactured house.

Modular container home in New York

Modular container home NY

Via Prefab Container Homes

It took 6 containers to build this house: 4 for the ground floor and 2 on top of those. The latter make the dining room, living room and an open kitchen.

Both the ground and upper floors offer some outdoor space: you can see the balcony and the ground deck where the owners have actually installed a swimming pool.

The inside walls are painted white which combined with the white oak floors make the rooms look very elegant and also spacious.

The house has energy efficient windows, Energy Star appliances and white thermoplastic roof with spray foam insulation.

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