August 07, 2020 at 11:21am | Michael Hunter

Home Improvements: $100 or Less




Tip 1: Spend an hour with a pro.

Invite a Realtor or interior designer over to check out your home. Many Realtors will do this as a courtesy, but you will probably have to pay a consultation fee to a designer. Check with several designers in your area -- a standard hourly fee is normally less than $100.

In an hour, a professional can give you lots of ideas for needed improvements. Even small suggestions, such as paint colors or furniture placement, can go a long way toward improving the look and feel of your home.

Tip 2: Find inspiration.

Want an even cheaper alternative to a professional consultation? Search for remodeling and decorating inspiration in design-oriented magazines, books, TV shows and Web sites. Simply tear out or print off the ideas you want to try and start your to-do list. Keep it simple: when remodeling on a tight budget, do-it-yourself type projects are best.

Tip 3: Inspect it!

Not every home improvement is cosmetic. Hidden problems like deteriorating roofs, termite infestation or outdated electrical systems can negatively impact your home's value. Hire an inspector to check out the areas of your home that you don't normally see. Small problems, like a hidden water leak, can become expensive headaches if you put off repairs. A little investment now can save you loads of cash later.

Tip 4: Paint, paint, paint.

One of the simplest, most cost-effective improvements of all is a fresh coat of paint. Newly painted rooms look clean and updated -- and that spells value. Neutral paint colors appeal to the greatest number of people, therefore making your home more desirable. On average, a gallon of paint costs around $25, leaving you plenty of money to buy rollers, tape, drop cloths and brushes. So, buy a few gallons and get busy!

Tip 5: Cut energy costs.

If you think your utility bill is a fixed amount, call your local utility company to find out. Many energy providers offer free energy audits of their customers' homes. They can show you how to maximize the energy efficiency of your home. A power- and water-saving home will conserve your money now, and is more valuable in the long run. Plus, you can use the money you save for more updates!

Home Improvements: $100-$200

Tip 1: Plant a tree.

Plan for the future with a landscaping improvement that will mature over time: a shade tree. Not only will a mature tree make your home more desirable, it will also provide a habitat for wildlife and add curb appeal. Plus, a properly placed tree can cut your cooling costs by as much as 40 percent. So why not grab a shovel already?

Tip 2: Low-maintenance landscaping saves you money now, adds value when you sell.

Shrubs and colorful plants will add curb appeal to your home, but make sure you "think green" while you're shopping at the local garden center. Purchase plants that are native to your region, or water-conserving drought-tolerant vegetation. These require less water and maintenance, which means you'll save time and have a little more green in your yard and your wallet.

Tip 3: Add a money-saving luxury.

Here's another way to tap into extra savings: install a water filtration system in your kitchen. Not only do these systems purify your water, you'll also save the money you were spending on bottled water. A water filtration system is an inexpensive addition, but it's the sort of small luxury that home buyers love.

Tip 4: Improve the air quality inside your home.

Air quality isn't just about outdoor conditions --older carpets can hide contaminates and allergens. Hire a professional company to test your indoor air quality to determine if your rugs need to be replaced. When choosing new flooring, update your home with environmentally-friendly natural products like tile or laminate floors. Hard surface floors are easier to keep clean, and are usually more appealing to buyers.

Tip 5: Save the popcorn for the movies.

Few structural elements date a house more than popcorn ceilings. So dedicate a weekend to ditching the dated look and adding dollar signs to the value of your home. First, visit your local hardware store for a solution to soften the texture. Then, simply scrape the popcorn away. It'll bring your house into the new millennium with minimal cost and effort. 

Home Improvements: $200 to $400


Tip 1: A messy lawn creates a bad first impression.

Overgrown or patchy lawns and over-sized bushes will cause your home to stand out -- in a bad way. The good news? Taming your jungle is an easy fix. For a few hundred dollars, you can hire a lawn service company to trim your lawn and shape your hedges. Your home's curb yard will go from cluttered to clean-cut -- without blowing your budget.

Tip 2: Cleanliness counts.

You only get one shot at a first impression, so make the interior of your home shine from the entrance to the exit. For less than $400, you can hire a cleaning service for a thorough top-to-bottom scrubbing. Even if you clean your home regularly, you likely miss or overlook some nooks and crannies. Let a cleaning service do the dirty work to really make your home sparkle.

Tip 3: Visually increase your home's square footage.

The size of your home dramatically affects its value, but square footage isn't the only thing that counts. Make sure your home feels as large as possible by visually increasing the space in every room.

Sunny rooms feel larger and more open, so replace heavy drapes with blinds or shutters that let light in. Also, adding a large mirror in each room can visually double the space in a room. Finally, clear the clutter. For less than $400, add an attractive shelving unit to an underused space and store your clutter out of sight.

Tip 4: Add new energy-efficient fixtures.

A functional, decorative ceiling fan is a beautiful thing. But an outdated, wobbly, loud or broken fan is a useless eyesore. Replace old fixtures with new to make your home more enjoyable now -- and increase the bottom line should you decide to sell.

Tip 5: Small bathroom updates equal a big return.

Bathroom updates are always a smart move. Even if you can't afford a full remodel, small changes can update the room without bruising your bottom line. For a quick, inexpensive face lift, replace dated wallpaper or light fixtures with updated paint and lighting. 

Home Improvements: $400 to $750

Tip 1: Update your bathroom and add lots of value.

The two rooms that gain the most value from small renovation are the kitchen and bathroom. You can do a minor bathroom remodel for less than $750, and even one cost-effective change will guarantee a lot of bang for your buck. Replacing an outdated vanity, old plumping or lighting fixtures or adding a new tile floor will give your bath an updated, modern look -- without breaking the bank.

Tip 2: Any kitchen update equals added value.

The same rule applies in the kitchen. You don't have to start the room's design from scratch to maximize your home's value. Start by swapping out just one item, such as a stained sink or ancient microwave for shiny new stainless models. Even small kitchen updates will add big value to your home.
Tip 3: Replace any worn carpets or area rugs.

Take a look at your home's soft flooring. Are your carpets and area rugs stained or worn? Nothing turns buyers off more than the thought that they will immediately need to replace all of the flooring in a home. If a limited budget keeps you from replacing all the flooring, start by replacing the carpet in the room that shows the most wear and tear. You can replace the others as your finances allow.
Tip 4: Keep up with regular maintenance and repairs.

Walk around your home and make a list of all the small things that need to be repaired. Small repairs may not seem important by themselves, but little things can add up to create the impression that your home has been neglected. Don't feel comfortable tackling repairs yourself? Hire a handyman for a day and watch your "to-do" list disappear. Staying on top of maintenance today eliminates problems down the road should you decide to sell.

Tip 5: Get help with getting organized.

Hire a lifestyle coach for a day. How does that help your home? The coach will help you organize your life, which includes organizing your home. A clutter-free house is part of a more organized life, and an orderly home is more valuable. 

Home Improvements: $750 to $1,000

Tip 1: Go tankless

Trade your standard water heater for a tankless model. Most old-fashioned water heaters keep 50 gallons of water hot at all times -- whether you use the water or not. Tankless water heaters heat only the water you need, as you need it. The eco-friendly water heater will save energy and money, and will help set you home apart if you sell.

Gray Laundry Room Feels Young With Red Appliances
Jill Wolff


Tip 2: Upgrade your appliances.

Eighty-six the old school appliances for sleek new energy-efficient ones. An appliance with an energy star label has been certified by the government to use 10 to 50 percent less energy and water than conventional appliances. Matching stainless appliances will not only look great now but will make your home shine brighter than the competition if it's on the market.

Tip 3: Go for the green.

Everyone loves a yard with thick, green grass. With less than $1,000 and a weekend's time, you can replace your existing patchy mix of weeds and grass with fresh new sod. You'll be amazed at the difference this one change will make in your home's curb appeal and value. 




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