For a variety of reasons, making improvements and upgrades to the home is a very satisfying thing. There’s the personal satisfaction of creating an environment that fits your needs and tastes as well as the very practical advantage of a better return on your investment when the time comes to sell.
Upgrades can add to your home’s value and your own enjoyment of the space, but when time and expense are factored in, there are definitely some that are more worth your time than others.
Let’s take a look at some value-boosting improvements you can make with a relatively low investment in both time and cash.
#1. Update the front door
This is a mostly aesthetic change, but a new front door can also enhance your home’s security. A high-quality wood or fiberglass door may cost $400-$600. Pre-hung doors, which include hinges, trim, and threshold, are widely available, and the cost of installation for these is very reasonable. Be sure to factor in the cost of the lockset, which can vary, usually staying well under $200. A new door that matches your home’s style gives an instant boost to curb appeal, and lends a well-tended air to the whole property.
#2. Add a walkway
Another slam-dunk for curb appeal is the addition of an inviting and functional walkway to your home’s exterior. There are options here to suit every budget. The materials you use will have the most impact on cost: concrete, gravel, or brick are economical ideas, while slate or fieldstone can be a really stylish enhancement. Experts have plenty of tips for creating an appealing walkway to your door.
#3. Install a programmable thermostat
“Smart” home systems help your home run more smoothly. They can increase efficiency and comfort while reducing energy costs. Most systems can now be operated via WiFi, so you can adjust settings no matter where you are. Programmable thermostats can be installed for as little as $150, and the EPA estimates that you can save 10% or more on heating and cooling costs by using one. Sign me up!
#4. Consider a water filtration system
A built-in, home-wide filtration system means that all of your faucets provide filtered water. This is a great convenience, and is sure to impress potential buyers as well. Various types of whole-house filters are available to suit your home, and costs vary. This upgrade could stray up above our $1,000 limit, but depending on the water you have available, it may be well worth a bit of extra expense.
#5. Update light fixtures
This project instantly modernizes and brightens a space. It’s not something that has to be done all at once, either, so it can be a really cost-effective idea. Consider new lighting for your front entry – it adds tremendously to curb appeal. Or make your kitchen more cheery and functional with task lighting or stylish hanging pendants.
#6. Upgrade your outlets
Replacing aging electrical outlets isn’t as visible as new lighting, but it makes your home safer and more functional. Especially with all of the electronics used by the typical family these days, it’s convenient to have grounded, 3-prong outlets rather than the older 2-prong type. Switching these doesn’t require any rewiring, so it can be a very economical and welcome change.
#7. Freshen hardware and fixtures
Take a look at your cabinets and drawer pulls in the kitchen. Decorators call these the “jewelry” of the room, and they do make a tremendous difference in the overall impression. There is a huge variety of styles and materials to choose from here, so use your imagination, and enjoy! Costs are very low – around $300 depending on the size of the room – and the change is quick and easy to do.
#8. Replace toilets
At the other end of the “glamour spectrum,” you can get a great ROI out of replacing your home’s toilets, especially if they’re over 10 years old. Great improvements have been made in reducing water consumption, so you can actually save on your water bill with a new toilet.
#9. Install tile floors
While we’re in the bathroom, consider replacing vinyl floors with gleaming tile. Tile floors are much easier to keep sparkling clean, and a worn vinyl floor can harbor mold and other undesirables. Tile is the standard for long-lasting, quality flooring in the bath.
#10. Update window treatments
Dated window coverings (do I see vertical blinds?) can drag down the loveliest room. Consider updating with wood or plantation blinds. These can be very affordable, especially if your windows are a standard width (most residential windows are 24 to 30 inches wide). If you have a drill and don’t mind driving a few screws, installation is painless.