Builders looking for an edge against the existing-home market in their areas may want to check out a new “home improvements” infographic from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Home Improvements infographic image
[Source: U.S. Census Bureau]

The infographic, which is based on data collected through the American Housing Survey, breaks out the median spent by homeowners for common home improvements such as a bathroom or kitchen update, new windows, and more in an appealing and easy-to read format.

Overall, 57% of the country’s 43.7 million homeowners made an improvement to their house between 2009 and 2011, according to the Census Bureau. That adds up to a total of $359 billion.

However, that number translates into a much less impressive median expenditure of $3,200 per homeowner on such updates. 

Additionally, the median amount spent on many projects--$2,432 for bathroom remodel, for example—suggests that these improvements may have been relatively small or primarily cosmetic.  

Just consider kitchens. The median spent on a kitchen remodel in this data was $5,000; Remodeling magazine’s 2013 Cost Vs. Value Report pegs the national average for a mid-range minor kitchen remodel at $18,527 and a major kitchen remodel at $53,921.

Cost caveats aside, the graphic does illustrate what could be sales advantages for builders, whose homes offer the lure of new kitchens and baths as well as the promise of better home energy performance. Energy efficiency often gets overlooked in favor of sexier upgrades, but the American Housing Survey data found that almost one-fourth of American homeowners upgraded the energy efficiency of their existing homes between 2009 and 2011. 

Given that older homes typically fall short of new construction when it comes to insulation, HVAC performance, utility costs, and indoor air quality, this suggests that buyers may be more interested in a new home’s energy efficiency than they might appear.