10 DIY Home Renovations for the Thrifty Homeowner

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Whether you’re preparing to sell your home or staying put and craving a refresh, you may be concerned about how renovations can impact your budget. If you’re willing to put in some time and get a little dirty, these DIY projects will help you update your home without taking out a second mortgage.

1. Clean Your Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding can keep your house looking new for years, but it can start to look dingy after a while. Home renovation pros Vicki and Steph Kubiak, from Mother Daughter Projects, say that despite what you may think, you don’t need to hire a pro or rent a power washer to clean your home’s exterior.

“Sometimes the solution to a problem is the simplest and least expensive,” they say. “Cleaning vinyl house siding can be accomplished with nothing more than a long-handled scrub brush, good-quality cleaner, a garden hose, and a little elbow grease.” They recommend this handwashing approach over using a power washer, which can damage the siding.

2. Repaint the Front Door and Update Exterior Accents

Whether your exterior has siding, paint, shingles, or stone, updating your front door can boost the curb appeal of your home. Marty Basher, home design expert for Modular Closets, suggests that you “choose a bold accent color that works well with the rest of the exterior, but also stands out from it, to give the door a bit of a spotlight.” For an even easier project, “change out your house numbers and possibly your mailbox,” he says, “and voila, you have a whole new look and feel when you’re entering your house.”

3. Apply Removable Wallpaper

Updated walls can easily improve your space, but the very word “wallpaper” might make you cringe, especially if you’ve attempted installing wallpaper yourself in the past. Elizabeth Rees, the founder of removable wallpaper company Chasing, states, “Removable wallpaper is a stylish and affordable way to update your space with minimal investment. Moreover, it’s a really easy way to add color or pattern to your space with little commitment.”

Rees also recommends sprucing up the front of your stair steps with removable wallpaper. Just cut strips to size and apply, and your stairs will look good as new.

4. Paint Your Walls

If you prefer a painted surface to wallpaper, you may be surprised by how easy it is to paint a room yourself. The caveat is that you do have to take your time for quality results, especially with project setup. Skip Bedell, home improvement expert from Home Depot, says that preparation is everything and will make the job and cleanup much easier.

“I love CoverGrip drop cloths because they are reusable,” he says. “They also have PVC dots on the back, so they don’t slip or slide as you are painting.” If you don’t feel like doing the whole primer and paint approach, try an all-in-one paint to drastically reduce your paint time.

5. Refresh Your Cabinets

Old-looking cabinets can make for a dreary kitchen. Rather than replacing them, Anthony Navarro, author and co-creator of the online talk show The Wedding Planners, recommends painting them and switching out the hardware for a dramatic update. “If you are not adventurous enough to paint your cabinets, consider changing out one cabinet door in the kitchen to glass, so you can highlight your entertaining glassware, serving pieces, and china,” he recommends.

6. Apply a New Backsplash

A fresh backsplash can give the impression of a much bigger renovation, and the Kubiaks suggest peel-and-stick tile, rather than the real thing. “A new kitchen backsplash is surprisingly affordable and DIY-able for homeowners,” they say. “Peel-and-stick tile makes it a DIY project that can be completed without complicated or expensive tools. These tiles can be cut to size with ordinary tin snips and stick to the wall without added adhesives.”

7. Rejuvenate Your Bathroom

If you’re not in a position to pay for a bathroom renovation, Jamie Gold, a kitchen designer and the author of the New Bathroom Idea Book, suggests upgrading hardware and fixtures, but keeping it easy. “When replacing cabinet pulls, choose new ones that can fit into the same holes so you don’t have to patch old ones,” she says.

Gold also suggests replacing your shower door and fixtures to update the room: “For hundreds of dollars, instead of thousands, you can replace a shower door with a modern frosted style that will hide a builder basic interior, replace a basic showerhead with a handheld model offering massage settings, install a designer-friendly grab bar that doesn’t need to be blocked, or add handsome storage shelves if there’s no niche.”

8. Hang Wall Art

You can change the look of a room by simply hanging artwork. Judy and Jess, the mother-daughter duo behind interior design studio Verandah House, say, “Before you place holes in the walls, measure your wall and mark out the same space on the floor. Lay out your artwork on the floor.”

Alternatively, they suggest cutting out cardboard to the size of the artwork and temporarily affixing them to the wall with a removable adhesive. If you don’t have framed pieces on hand, Judy and Jess suggest heading to flea markets, antique stores, and secondhand shops for vintage artwork.

9. Put Up Window Coverings

New window treatments can dramatically enhance a room without requiring a ton of effort. You can find reasonably priced and easy-to-install shades, curtains, and rods at stores like Target and Home Goods. Basher suggests IKEA’s no-sew curtains that are easy to trim and finish to size.

10. Update Old Floors

Worn out, old floors can set the tone for an entire room, but re-sanding and finishing your floors could be beyond your capabilities. Basher has a fix: “Whether you have old carpet or beat up hardwood floors, a little measuring and a few hours of work over a weekend can spruce up your floors and change the complete look of a room. A couple coats of durable floor paint or peel-and-stick tiles from your local home store can go a long way.”

Fixing up your home doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult—just consider these suggestions for your next home improvement project. If you do decide to take your renovations a step further and need a loan, look up your credit score to get an idea of what you’ll qualify for. Get a free credit report at Credit.com and see where you stand.

Image: istock 

The post 10 DIY Home Renovations for the Thrifty Homeowner appeared first on Credit.com.

10 Home Upgrades With the Best Return on Your Money

home-upgrades-with-the-best-financial-returns

Insulation is about as sexy as flannel pajamas, but guess what? The money spent on beefing up attic insulation delivers the best bang per buck invested in home upgrades, according to Remodeling Magazine’s 2016 Cost vs. Value report.

In fact, adding insulation (and nine other practical projects) outscored more glamorous upgrades, like kitchen and bathroom remodels.

To conduct the report, now in its 29th year, the magazine researched costs in 100 real estate markets around the country for 30 popular home projects. It asked a panel of real estate professionals to evaluate the rate of return on each of these projects in their local area.

One caveat: Earning a decent return isn’t the same as making a profit. On average, money spent on the 30 projects earned a 64% return. In most cities, the best projects only came close to breaking even. The one exception this year was beefing up attic insulation, which had a good return on investment in most markets — with an average of almost 117%.

Also worth noting: Projects recoup their cost better in high-demand real estate markets, like San Francisco, than in less-competitive markets.

These are the 10 projects that the study reported earn the biggest payback for homeowners.

1. Attic Insulation: 116.9%

Of the 30 jobs Remodeling Magazine examined, the simple task of blowing loose fiberglass insulation into a 35-by-30-foot attic pays back the best. On average, around the country, insulating the attic to an R-30 value cost $1,268. It added an average of $1,482 to the home’s value — a 116.9% rate of return. The attic insulation job makes money for homeowners in 59 of the 100 markets studied.

How much insulation you’d need at your home depends on your climate and the building energy code where you live. (This U.S. Department of Energy map shows residential and commercial energy codes used in each state.)

2. Manufactured Stone Veneer: 92.9%

Adding manufactured stone to a home’s exterior adds a look that many buyers like and are willing to pay more for. The project considered in the study involved removing 300 square feet of vinyl siding around the bottom of a home and replacing it with manufactured stone veneer at an average cost of $7,519. The “stone” is made of molded concrete that’s shaped and treated to resemble natural rock. The estimated payback: $6,988 added to the home’s value.

3. Garage Door Replacement: 91.5%

An investment of $1,652, on average, produces a return of $1,512 for homeowners who spiff up their garage with a new, uninsulated four-section steel door that reuses the existing motorized opener and adds new galvanized steel tracks. Spend a bit more and you can get almost as good a return. A more-expensive garage door replacement cost $3,140, on average, and recouped $2,830 — a 90.1% return.

4. Steel Entry Door: 91.1%

Replacing a home’s front door with a fresh one of 20-gauge steel has been a reliable winner in Remodeling Magazine studies over the years. An investment of $1,335, on average, produces a return of $1,217. For the price you get a door that is painted at the factory on both sides and includes a dual-pane window and a new bored-lock in brass or antique-brass.

5. Minor Kitchen Remodel: 83.1%

Spending $20,122 to update a 200-square-foot kitchen with new cabinet and drawer fronts and hardware, new wall oven, cooktop, sink, faucet and laminate countertops adds $16,716, on average, to a home’s value.

But take the project upscale for an upscale major kitchen remodel and the payback changes. Spend $119,909 on a “major” kitchen remodel — including top-of-the-line cherry cabinets, stone counters, cork floors, new lighting, ceramic or glass backsplash, built-in wall oven, cooktop, refrigerator, warming oven, trash compactor, commercial range and vent hood — and you’ll recoup just 61.5% of the investment ($73,707), the study finds. A major kitchen remodel done with midrange products (an average cost of $59,999) pays off better: 64.9%.

6. Fiberglass Entry Door: 82.3%

Invest an average of $3,126 on a new entry door made of fiberglass in a simulated wood grain, stained front and back with a decorative window. The price includes PVC-clad trim and a new mortise lock with lever handle and integrated deadbolt with an oil-rubbed bronze or satin-nickel finish. The payback: $2,574, on average.

7. Siding Replacement: 77%

Upgrading a home’s siding is an expensive project — the study envisions spending an average of $14,100 — but it improves a home’s value by $10,857, on average. This price tag, however, averages in not only different costs across 100 markets but also a great variety of siding products, from vinyl and foam-backed vinyl, to fiber cement and engineered siding. That means your costs and your results could vary widely based on location and products used.

8. Wood Deck Addition: 75%

The project envisioned includes a 16-by-20-foot deck of pressure-treated wood planks and joists, three steps and a built-in bench and planter and railings — all of the same material. The cost: $10,471 and the return: $7,850.

Composite decking is the newer alternative. The best composite products are low-maintenance and offer a longer lifespan. But a nearly identical project done with composite planking costs $37,943, on average — almost four times the price of wood — and it recoups just 57.7% of the cost ($21,877) when selling a home.

9. New Vinyl Windows: 72.1% — 73.3%

Vinyl windows beat wood windows when it comes to recouping cost, but not by much.

The cost of replacing 10 windows (leaving the trim in place) runs $14,725, on average. Envisioned for the project are 3-by-5-foot double-hung insulated, low-E vinyl windows with a simulated wood finish on the inside. You’d recoup $10,794 (73.3%), on average, if the home gets sold within a year.

Wood windows are costlier: The same project costs an average of $18,087, but you’d recoup about $13,050, or 72.1%.

10. New Roof: 71.7%

There’s nothing cheap about replacing a roof, but maybe that’s why buyers pay a premium for a home with a new one already in place (and why this may be a good negotiating tool). At least they know the project is out of the way for a long while.

The average cost for a new roof in the study was $20,142. This replacement was for a roof of 30 new squares of 235-pound fiberglass asphalt shingles. The cost also included installation, removing the old roofing material, disposing of the waste and new felt underlayment, drip edge and flashing. Gutters were not included. This project is expected to recoup $14,446, on average, when the house sells. That’s a great deal on a new roof for a home buyer.

What About the Fun Stuff?

You probably have the idea by now: Money spent on practical, no-frills upgrades offers the best financial return. But if you’re still wondering about how well money spent on lifestyle-type projects pays back, here are a few examples.

  • Basement Remodel: 70.4%
  • Two-Story Addition: 69.3%
  • Family Room Addition: 67.9%
  • Midrange Bathroom Remodel: 65.7%
  • Master Suite Addition: 64.1%
  • Upscale Bathroom Remodel: 57.5%
  • Bathroom Addition: 56.7% — 56.2%

What’s Trending & Where

If you’re thinking of putting money into remodeling, here are some of the other takeaways from the study that may help you decide on the best project for you.

  • Curb Appeal: Many of the projects with the most return were improvements to a home’s exterior. That, the magazine’s editors speculate, may be because they improve what the real estate industry calls “curb appeal,” or the impression the home makes on buyers and passers-by. Work done on windows and siding, for example, paid off better than money invested in work on kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Replacements: Replacement projects – like doors, windows and siding — returned slightly more (61.5%) than remodeling projects (57.3%).
  • Project on the Upswing: The project with the greatest financial gain in the last year was a minor kitchen remodel, which delivered 83.1% this year compared to the 79.3% return reported in 2015.
  • Where Remodeling Pays: The projects studied delivered different returns in different markets. In just one city, San Francisco, every one of the jobs returned more than 100% of the investment. Housing shortages seem to drive up return, the magazine says. In 18 cities where the renovations performed best (at least 75% of the money invested returned), half were in California or Florida.
  • Payback Varies by Region: Payback was highest — 77.5% — in the Pacific region, which includes high-priced real estate in California and Hawaii, as well as Oregon, Washington and Alaska. Payback was lowest — 54.9% — in the East South Central region, in states that include Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee.

[Editor’s Note: If you are considering making any upgrades to your home, whether for resale value or just because, it’s a good idea to avoid spending more than you can afford on a project. You can see how your home upgrade project fits into your financial goals, like building good credit scores, by using this free tool on Credit.com.] 

More From Money Talks News:

Image: Susan Chiang

The post 10 Home Upgrades With the Best Return on Your Money appeared first on Credit.com.

10 Home Upgrades With the Best Return on Your Money

home-upgrades-with-the-best-financial-returns

Insulation is about as sexy as flannel pajamas, but guess what? The money spent on beefing up attic insulation delivers the best bang per buck invested in home upgrades, according to Remodeling Magazine’s 2016 Cost vs. Value report.

In fact, adding insulation (and nine other practical projects) outscored more glamorous upgrades, like kitchen and bathroom remodels.

To conduct the report, now in its 29th year, the magazine researched costs in 100 real estate markets around the country for 30 popular home projects. It asked a panel of real estate professionals to evaluate the rate of return on each of these projects in their local area.

One caveat: Earning a decent return isn’t the same as making a profit. On average, money spent on the 30 projects earned a 64% return. In most cities, the best projects only came close to breaking even. The one exception this year was beefing up attic insulation, which had a good return on investment in most markets — with an average of almost 117%.

Also worth noting: Projects recoup their cost better in high-demand real estate markets, like San Francisco, than in less-competitive markets.

These are the 10 projects that the study reported earn the biggest payback for homeowners.

1. Attic Insulation: 116.9%

Of the 30 jobs Remodeling Magazine examined, the simple task of blowing loose fiberglass insulation into a 35-by-30-foot attic pays back the best. On average, around the country, insulating the attic to an R-30 value cost $1,268. It added an average of $1,482 to the home’s value — a 116.9% rate of return. The attic insulation job makes money for homeowners in 59 of the 100 markets studied.

How much insulation you’d need at your home depends on your climate and the building energy code where you live. (This U.S. Department of Energy map shows residential and commercial energy codes used in each state.)

2. Manufactured Stone Veneer: 92.9%

Adding manufactured stone to a home’s exterior adds a look that many buyers like and are willing to pay more for. The project considered in the study involved removing 300 square feet of vinyl siding around the bottom of a home and replacing it with manufactured stone veneer at an average cost of $7,519. The “stone” is made of molded concrete that’s shaped and treated to resemble natural rock. The estimated payback: $6,988 added to the home’s value.

3. Garage Door Replacement: 91.5%

An investment of $1,652, on average, produces a return of $1,512 for homeowners who spiff up their garage with a new, uninsulated four-section steel door that reuses the existing motorized opener and adds new galvanized steel tracks. Spend a bit more and you can get almost as good a return. A more-expensive garage door replacement cost $3,140, on average, and recouped $2,830 — a 90.1% return.

4. Steel Entry Door: 91.1%

Replacing a home’s front door with a fresh one of 20-gauge steel has been a reliable winner in Remodeling Magazine studies over the years. An investment of $1,335, on average, produces a return of $1,217. For the price you get a door that is painted at the factory on both sides and includes a dual-pane window and a new bored-lock in brass or antique-brass.

5. Minor Kitchen Remodel: 83.1%

Spending $20,122 to update a 200-square-foot kitchen with new cabinet and drawer fronts and hardware, new wall oven, cooktop, sink, faucet and laminate countertops adds $16,716, on average, to a home’s value.

But take the project upscale for an upscale major kitchen remodel and the payback changes. Spend $119,909 on a “major” kitchen remodel — including top-of-the-line cherry cabinets, stone counters, cork floors, new lighting, ceramic or glass backsplash, built-in wall oven, cooktop, refrigerator, warming oven, trash compactor, commercial range and vent hood — and you’ll recoup just 61.5% of the investment ($73,707), the study finds. A major kitchen remodel done with midrange products (an average cost of $59,999) pays off better: 64.9%.

6. Fiberglass Entry Door: 82.3%

Invest an average of $3,126 on a new entry door made of fiberglass in a simulated wood grain, stained front and back with a decorative window. The price includes PVC-clad trim and a new mortise lock with lever handle and integrated deadbolt with an oil-rubbed bronze or satin-nickel finish. The payback: $2,574, on average.

7. Siding Replacement: 77%

Upgrading a home’s siding is an expensive project — the study envisions spending an average of $14,100 — but it improves a home’s value by $10,857, on average. This price tag, however, averages in not only different costs across 100 markets but also a great variety of siding products, from vinyl and foam-backed vinyl, to fiber cement and engineered siding. That means your costs and your results could vary widely based on location and products used.

8. Wood Deck Addition: 75%

The project envisioned includes a 16-by-20-foot deck of pressure-treated wood planks and joists, three steps and a built-in bench and planter and railings — all of the same material. The cost: $10,471 and the return: $7,850.

Composite decking is the newer alternative. The best composite products are low-maintenance and offer a longer lifespan. But a nearly identical project done with composite planking costs $37,943, on average — almost four times the price of wood — and it recoups just 57.7% of the cost ($21,877) when selling a home.

9. New Vinyl Windows: 72.1% — 73.3%

Vinyl windows beat wood windows when it comes to recouping cost, but not by much.

The cost of replacing 10 windows (leaving the trim in place) runs $14,725, on average. Envisioned for the project are 3-by-5-foot double-hung insulated, low-E vinyl windows with a simulated wood finish on the inside. You’d recoup $10,794 (73.3%), on average, if the home gets sold within a year.

Wood windows are costlier: The same project costs an average of $18,087, but you’d recoup about $13,050, or 72.1%.

10. New Roof: 71.7%

There’s nothing cheap about replacing a roof, but maybe that’s why buyers pay a premium for a home with a new one already in place (and why this may be a good negotiating tool). At least they know the project is out of the way for a long while.

The average cost for a new roof in the study was $20,142. This replacement was for a roof of 30 new squares of 235-pound fiberglass asphalt shingles. The cost also included installation, removing the old roofing material, disposing of the waste and new felt underlayment, drip edge and flashing. Gutters were not included. This project is expected to recoup $14,446, on average, when the house sells. That’s a great deal on a new roof for a home buyer.

What About the Fun Stuff?

You probably have the idea by now: Money spent on practical, no-frills upgrades offers the best financial return. But if you’re still wondering about how well money spent on lifestyle-type projects pays back, here are a few examples.

  • Basement Remodel: 70.4%
  • Two-Story Addition: 69.3%
  • Family Room Addition: 67.9%
  • Midrange Bathroom Remodel: 65.7%
  • Master Suite Addition: 64.1%
  • Upscale Bathroom Remodel: 57.5%
  • Bathroom Addition: 56.7% — 56.2%

What’s Trending & Where

If you’re thinking of putting money into remodeling, here are some of the other takeaways from the study that may help you decide on the best project for you.

  • Curb Appeal: Many of the projects with the most return were improvements to a home’s exterior. That, the magazine’s editors speculate, may be because they improve what the real estate industry calls “curb appeal,” or the impression the home makes on buyers and passers-by. Work done on windows and siding, for example, paid off better than money invested in work on kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Replacements: Replacement projects – like doors, windows and siding — returned slightly more (61.5%) than remodeling projects (57.3%).
  • Project on the Upswing: The project with the greatest financial gain in the last year was a minor kitchen remodel, which delivered 83.1% this year compared to the 79.3% return reported in 2015.
  • Where Remodeling Pays: The projects studied delivered different returns in different markets. In just one city, San Francisco, every one of the jobs returned more than 100% of the investment. Housing shortages seem to drive up return, the magazine says. In 18 cities where the renovations performed best (at least 75% of the money invested returned), half were in California or Florida.
  • Payback Varies by Region: Payback was highest — 77.5% — in the Pacific region, which includes high-priced real estate in California and Hawaii, as well as Oregon, Washington and Alaska. Payback was lowest — 54.9% — in the East South Central region, in states that include Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee.

[Editor’s Note: If you are considering making any upgrades to your home, whether for resale value or just because, it’s a good idea to avoid spending more than you can afford on a project. You can see how your home upgrade project fits into your financial goals, like building good credit scores, by using this free tool on Credit.com.] 

More From Money Talks News:

Image: Susan Chiang

The post 10 Home Upgrades With the Best Return on Your Money appeared first on Credit.com.