As a homeowner, there are few certainties in life — death, taxes and a constant to-do list of home improvement projects. Whether it’s a leaky roof or outdated kitchen, these can’t-wait tasks add up quickly. The good news is that you can make your house more livable and increase its value without blowing up your bank account with major renovations.

Home improvements are one of the most popular reasons people buy homes, but that doesn’t mean everyone is getting their money’s worth. In fact, many home remodels fail to deliver a positive return on investment, according to data from the Contractor Growth Network. The most common upgrades that don’t pay off include sparkling bathroom overhauls, basement remodeling and kitchen remodels.

In a volatile market, it’s important to be smart about your home improvement projects. Before hiring a contractor, it’s a good idea to ask friends and family for recommendations and verify their licenses and insurance. It’s also wise to compare the rates of different contractors before deciding which one to hire. You can even save time and money by leveraging the services of an online aggregator, which brings together competing contractors in your area.

While you may be thinking of adding more living space to your home, it’s important to consider what potential buyers will want in the future. Extra bedrooms and bathrooms can make a big difference in how much you sell your home for, but it’s important to balance your needs with the demands of the real estate market.

Another way to add value to your home is by making it more energy efficient. New windows, a heat pump or added insulation can decrease your energy costs and save you money in the long run. These types of improvements are also a turn-on for potential buyers who are concerned about rising utility bills.

Other common home improvement projects that can add value to your home include a new front door, upgraded window treatments and fresh landscaping. Painting your bedroom a new color or installing wallpaper can also refresh your living spaces without spending a fortune.

It’s also important to keep up with basic maintenance tasks, like caulking gaps between the baseboard and wall or re-caulking your shower. Neglected maintenance can be a deal-breaker for potential buyers and lead to costly repairs in the future.

A final tip for homeowners looking to improve their property is to choose projects that complement the surrounding neighborhood. A backyard hot tub or fountain might look out of place in a suburban neighborhood, but an updated kitchen, deck and well-maintained yard are attractive to most buyers.

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