Whether you plan to sell your home or just make it more comfortable to live in, there are many things you can do to increase its value and functionality. What you will discover is that while some of these projects take much investment in the way of time and money, they are well worth it.
Top Home Improvement Tips
1. Remodel Your Kitchen
For most people, your home is one of the busiest areas of the house, serving as a hub where loved one and friends gather. With this in mind, the flow of your kitchen, or lack thereof could turn gatherings into hectic, uncomfortable situations. In addition, if you plan to sell your home, many buyers view a house's kitchen as one of the main points of emphasis when determining if it's the right fit for them.
Therefore, remodeling your kitchen can benefit you in multiple ways. However, it's important you don't go overboard with the remodel or you run the risk of spending more than you'll receive in return. Along with this, you want to design a kitchen that fits with the rest of your house or else it will come off as too disjointed to potential buyers.
With these things in mind, simplicity is the best way to approach any kitchen remodel. You can make small changes that will enhance your kitchen's appearance in a big way. To illustrate, you can replace your kitchen's appliances with new, energy-efficient ones. Not only will new appliances provide an instant visual pop to the room, they can save you money on utility costs as well.
Along with appliances, you can create a fresh look by painting the room in modern colors. This will add appeal for little expense. When selecting paints, find low-VOC ones, as these are the safest for your family. Moreover, if you want to sell your home soon, you will want to choose modern colors that also offer some neutrality that way it attracts prospective buyers.
Lastly, you can increase your kitchen's flow. To demonstrate, if your home has a kitchen island that serves more as a buffer than anything else, you could have it removed, which will create more free space. Buyers love open spaces because it's easier to move around and gives the room more flow. Therefore, if this applies in your home's case, creating more space is a great way to add more appeal to your kitchen.
2. Add a Bathroom
Adding another bathroom makes a huge difference in your home, especially if you only have one and you have the space to make the addition. What is more, you can recoup the cost of making the improvement and even make money, as HGTV states you could receive up to a 130 percent return on your investment.
To identify places in your home that could serve as a bathroom, it's important to know you need 18 square feet for a half bathroom, and 30 square feet for a full bathroom with a standup shower. If you plan to only add half a bathroom, investigate underused closets and/or rooms.
Once you identify a room that will work, you can find many inexpensive fixtures and bathroom accessories at your local home improvement store. Often, they will have sales when holiday weekends come up, so it represents a great time to make a new addition and save money.
3. Reinvent a Room
Instead of trying to add a room onto your home, which could result in being much more expensive than initially estimated if contractors run into issues, use what your home offers to your advantage. Chances are there are rooms you have that can serve you better.
Some of the ways you can do this are to transform a garage into an apartment. This could help you earn added income you can use to reduce your mortgage payment or in some cases, even offset it. You could also change your unfinished basement into your family's game room, apartment or second living room.
The goal is to create value and functionality when examining the potential of your home's underused areas. And if you have the money to do a major overhaul such as finishing a basement, then doing it creates more opportunities to serve your family better. Most important, if you ever plan to leave, that added functionality will entice prospective buyers.
4. Update Windows
Your home's windows represent one of the biggest areas where air can escape your home. If your house has older windows, this will result in larger energy costs due to the furnace or air conditioner--depending on the season--working harder to maintain the preset temperature.
By replacing your old, drafty windows with ENERGY STAR qualified windows, you can save up to $465 annually in heating and cooling bills. Because of the savings it represents, investing in new windows that have the ENERGY STAR stamp of approval is a great way to keep your home better insulated for less out of pocket expense over the life of home ownership.
5. Insulate your Home
Dovetailing off the previous point, there are plenty of areas in your home where air can escape easily. This can include your home's doors, attic, air ducts, energy sockets, and basement--if applicable. Therefore, by properly insulating these areas, you can save significantly on energy expenses.
To do this, you should inspect these entry points. To illustrate, when you examine your attic's insulation, you should see if it has the right type and amount, according to the home insulation guide supplied by ENERGY STAR. What's more, adding insulation won't cost you much but it can yield huge savings in the way of reduced utility bills.
Another way to insulate your home is to run your hand over its doors, windows and electrical outlets to feel for drafts. You can also purchase a thermal leak detector at many home improvement stores. These devices will take temperature readings and alert you when it detects variations in temperature. When you discover some temperature variations, you can use caulking or draft seals--in the event your door is drafty-- to insulate your home better.
Once insulated, you can switch to a programmable thermostat if your home doesn't have one already. This thermostat is beneficial in that you can program your home's temperature to be a few degrees warmer in the summer months and a few degrees cooler in the winter months when you are away from home, resulting in fewer energy costs.
Speaking of energy costs, another way to reduce them is to switch your lighting from incandescent bulbs to CFL bulbs. CFL bulbs require 75 percent less energy to operate relative to normal bulbs, so you are bound to reduce your home's energy consumption. An added benefit you receive with CFL bulbs is they last longer, resulting in fewer replacements needed over the life of home ownership.
Lastly, it's important to keep your home's water heater operating in the best efficiency as you can. If your home came with an older heater, consider replacing it if you have the money. A tankless water heater is a great investment in that it is 34 percent more efficient than traditional water heaters where the family uses 41 gallons or less daily.
6. Add a Deck
If your living area has enough room for it, a deck serves as a great centerpiece, tying the back yard together while giving you the platform to entertain friends and loved ones regularly. Not only does the deck give you a place to entertain, it can be your relaxing oasis away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Decks are not cheap to install. Depending on your budget and taste preferences, it can cost $15 per square foot for wood decks, according to HGTV. If you want to use composite materials, then the cost will rise to $35 per square foot.
To install a deck, you can cut your costs down by doing the installation yourself. Or, if you opt for a contractor, be certain to do your homework ahead of time. Research several deck contractors and ask for references you can verify. You should also ask for quotes, as this gives you a better idea of who will be the best one to use for the project.
While the initial expense can be high, the functionality you gain from having one can offset some of the expense. Another way you can offset it is when it comes time to sell your home. Since the appeal of backyard living has increased, and decks are a big part of it, installing a deck makes your home more marketable. This could pay off well for you when you are ready to sell.
7. Lawn Care
Keeping your yard in great shape will boost your home's curb appeal. The great thing is it doesn't require much in the way of expenses to make this happen.
Along with regular lawn care such as mowing, weeding, and edging, it's important to pay close attention to any trees or shrubs near your home. Well-trimmed trees and bushes increase visibility to your home, while also providing a preventative measure in the case violent storms occur. The last thing you would want during a violent wind gust is for a large tree limb dangling over your home's roof.
Along with trimming regularly, you can bolster your home's appearance with seasonal flowers, a vegetable and herb garden - which will save you money on food costs--and more. The important thing isn't to go all out and spend thousands of dollars creating an elaborately designed lawn, especially if you plan to move. Doing regular maintenance can net you a return as high as four-fold, according to this Old House. Therefore, simplicity is key as it pertains to your lawn.
8. Stay up to Date on Basic Care
The more vigilant you are with inspecting and fixing small issues that arise, the better your home functions and retains its value. Here are some things you can do to ensure this happens:
- For starters, you should have your home's HVAC regularly inspected by a reputable technician, who can ensure it operates in peak condition. This results in you saving money in energy costs and prolonging the life of the HVAC.
- Speaking of the HVAC, be sure to inspect its air filter and change it out when dirty. This normally occurs once every two to three months.
- Check the air vents for dust or any obstructions and clean them regularly. By doing so, you increase the air flow and quality of the air entering your home.
- Next, add a fresh coat of paint to boost a room's appearance. Freshly painted rooms, with modern colors, adds a visual appeal your family or prospective buyers will enjoy.
- Inspect plumbing fixtures for signs of leaking. If there are water spots around the toilet or sink be sure to fix them quickly.
- You should also get in the habit of inspecting your roof, as the weather permits. Replace curled up shingles and clean leaves and other debris out of the gutters regularly.
- Remove any mold you find in your home immediately. You can use the Family Handyman's guide to help you determine the proper steps for removal.
- Clean your kitchen's garbage disposal monthly by running vinegar ice cubes through the disposal. This will reduce the buildup and subsequent stress placed on the disposal, allowing it to last longer.
- Do a visual inspection on the outside of your home, paying close attention to paint chipping, warped gutters and cracking in the foundation. You can also use this time to inspect the driveway for cracks and have it resealed if necessary. If you leave the cracks unattended during colder months, frozen water can expand them
Overall, these tips are great ways to boost the value of your home. Not only can you increase the value of your home, you can improve its functionality and energy efficiency, saving you money in energy costs both now and well into the future.