This story was originally published in July 2020.
Whether or not you are trying to sell your house in the near future, taking time to make simple renovations to your home will be beneficial to quality of life as well as your property value. However, some home renovations can be costly.
Luckily, there are easy, cheap home renovations that will add a lot of value to your home. Here is what the experts have to say about the best bang-for-your-buck home improvements.
Replace cabinet pulls
Improvements to your kitchen and bathrooms will not only freshen up your space but will add value to your home, should you need to sell. Some of these updates will cost a lot of money. Replacing cabinets or countertops, for instance, can cost thousands of dollars.
But there are smaller ways to update the spaces without spending the big bucks — like replacing the knobs on cabinet doors and drawers.
“You can get them for $2 a piece,” said said Cari Turnbull, owner of Maine Real Estate Experts in Cumberland. “That’s a really simple way and something that a homeowner can do themselves.”
Turnbull said that outdated cabinet pulls — for example, hanging or hinged pulls — will date a room and make it look older than it is. More modern styles like sleek metal bars or will freshen up the look of the space for very little cost or labor investment.
Add a backsplash
Filling the space between a kitchen or bathroom wall and cabinet with decorative tiles is not only easy and inexpensive, but also functional and aesthetically pleasing. Wendyann Boston, founder and owner of Cornerstone Valuation Services, said that in her experience as an appraiser, she has noticed that changing the backsplash in these two rooms is an easy way to update a space.
“There are some tiles that really announce themselves from across the room,” Boston said. “It’s another way of lowering your maintenance, something that can be washed whereas maybe there was just a drywall back there. It seems to be something that can be done by the homeowner without a lot of problems.”
Update light fixtures and faucets
Updating light fixtures is one of the simplest things that homeowners can easily do themselves to increase the value of their home.
“If your home was built in the ‘90s, the fixtures are out of date and can date your home,” Turnbull said.
Pendant light fixtures and ones with a matte black finish are “really popular right now,” according to Turnbull. Even something as simple as changing out lightbulbs for a soft white light instead of one with a yellowed hue, she said, will add more brightness to a space.
Turnbull estimated that lights fixtures will cost anywhere from $30 to $100 per light fixture. Aside from replacing simple light fixtures, though, Turnbull does not recommend doing other electrical work on your own.
Apply a fresh coat of paint
Refreshing the paint color on both the interior or exterior of a home will make a big difference in its value.
“[For the] interior, I would say neutral colors. Exterior, again, nothing shocking, but more trending orientated,” said Dave Harrigan, owner and president of Maineland Appraisal Consultants. “Paint cost is reasonable, DIY, and impact typically exceeds cost.”
When it comes to painting projects, Turnbull suggested starting in the bedroom, which can cost $50 or less for supplies.
“I think bedrooms are usually the rooms that people paint the funkiest colors,” Turnbull said. “I see people who do purple or maroon, which the kids may have chosen [but dark] colors make [a room] feel smaller. I would update that to a more neutral tone — a light gray with white trim, that would really make it pop. For resale, a blank slate is usually best.”
Another small-scale paint job that will make a huge difference is updating the color of your cabinets.
“Painting cabinets and bathrooms and kitchens white and gray is a super easy way instead of getting a whole new kitchen,” Turnbull said.
Update your doors
An update to doors in your house can add value by modernizing the look and, for exterior doors, reducing heat loss.
“Doors that are more glass sometimes have heat loss,” Boston said. “People go more towards being energy efficient. Doors are the quickest thing to replace as opposed to windows and possibly something the homeowner could do themselves.”
Simply painting a door can also make a huge difference. Turnbull recommended painting your front door navy blue or black. Boston said that some people take their doors in a “completely different direction,” opting for punchier colors.
Build a deck
If you have a little more capital to invest, creating outdoor space with a deck is a high-value addition to your home.
“People look for that kind of thing,” Turnbull said. “People like to have a place outdoors, a place to put their grill and sit. A deck is a really good addition.”
Boston said that choosing lower-maintenance materials like a composite deck with vinyl railings is more appealing for buyers.
Turnbull warned, however, that because “people have been adding decks like crazy” since the pandemic started, there is a shortage of pressure-treated lumber and composite materials for decks, so it may take some searching.
Add a small garden
Aside from the fact that gardening is a great way to pass the time in the age of the pandemic, adding a raised bed or a small garden to your property
“Outdoor landscaping is a great thing that homeowners can take on themselves, but I wouldn’t go too crazy,” Turnbull said. “A lot of people don’t like the maintenance of a lot of flower beds, but keeping it simple. Adding a pop of color is always a good idea.”
“For some people, they purchased this house over that house because it has this well-established garden that they’re excited about,” Boston said. “The next person says, ‘Not that house,’ because it has an established garden that they have to take care of. A little bit of colors, perennials, something that wouldn’t take a lot of time to manage would be a good thing to have.”
For urban properties, adding a tree can have a high rate of return.
“If you’re in a more condensed neighborhood, nice buffer trees would increase the value of a house to increase separation between you and neighbor [and] increase a sense of privacy,” Turnbull said.
Stay on top of regular maintenance
No matter whether you are looking to stay in your house or sell it, regular maintenance will have high returns.
“The biggest return for money spent is regular maintenance,” Boston said. “A house that’s cared for holds more value than one that isn’t.”
Regular maintenance tasks include updating, painting or installing new siding, replacing windows and repairing the roof when needed, Turnbull said.
While many other updates can be subjective based on trends and buyer preferences in terms of whether or not they are going to add value to your home, regular maintenance is a sure bet.
“Residential value is driven by so many emotional factors, [so] you can only take it so far,” Boston said. “Regular maintenance is your best hedge against losing value and perhaps even enhancing it.”