You don’t have to spend a lot to make these valuable home improvements.
With so much emphasis on buying and selling homes — the truth is that for most of your life as a real estate consumer, you’ll be a homeowner. And because your home is so much more than a transaction, spending some portion of your time, energy, and money improving your home makes sense.
Many homeowners wait until saving up tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in equity to make a major change to their home. And that means they almost never do the project, or do it only when it’s time to sell. If you’re planning to stay put in your home for a while, home improvement projects will drive even more return on your home investment.
1. Crank up the curb appeal
Enhancing curb appeal is one of the most cost-effective home improvement projects. There’s just something about loving the way your home looks when you drive up to it day after day that dramatically increases your enjoyment of home.
Depending on which projects you choose and whether you do the work yourself, you can crank up your curb appeal for a few hundred dollars or a few thousand. Some curb appeal ideas to consider include painting or power wash your home’s exterior, painting or installing a new garage door, front door or exterior trim work, exterior or landscape lighting, or a simple front yard landscaping spruce-up.
2. Get rid of a wall
The number one remodel fantasy of homeowners-to-be: knocking down a wall.
In fact, removing walls, even structural walls, is highly feasible and much less expensive than many homeowners assume. (If a load-bearing wall is removed, the structural component can often be preserved and finished by simply leaving a beam at the ceiling.) What can jack up the price is the relocation of plumbing or wiring contained in the wall being removed.
Reconnecting interruptions in flooring and adding features like an island also increase expenses. Check with a reputable contractor to find out how such a project can be planned and executed efficiently.
3. Swap out old windows for new, dual-paned windows
Replacing old, single-paned windows for new dual-paned windows might make your home look better, but it will definitely make your home operate more efficiently — and more comfortably. They’re also a must if you have street noise or other noise challenges around your home; the extra insulation traps noise before it can get to you.
As with everything, costs vary by location and by the quality of window you choose, but you can use $200 to $300 per window, installed, as a rough rule of thumb.
4. Build an outdoor kitchen
The National Outdoor Kitchen and Fireplace Association pegs the average cost of an outdoor kitchen at $12,000 to $15,000 on average — but if you can cut costs, find appliances on sale, or do some of the work yourself, you might just be able to get one in your own backyard for the $10,000 price point. Outdoor kitchens can be as simple as a table and grill, or as complex as wood-burning ovens, refrigerators, and big-screen TVs.
5. Buy new kitchen appliances
In terms of sheer functionality, new kitchen appliances can create an upgrade to your family’s everyday life. A new fridge will run you anywhere from $350 to $2,000 on average, a new stove/oven range can run anywhere from $300 to $6,000, and a dishwasher will cost you somewhere around $250 to $1,600.
6. Swap out your carpet
If you have $10K to spend and you can’t stand your carpet, you can estimate that it’ll run you about $300 to $500 per room to replace it with new carpet, or $1,500 to $2,000 per room to replace it with hardwood, depending on where you live, how large your rooms are, and what specific materials you choose.
7. Build in organizing systems
One of the most significant advantages to owning your home is that you can customize it to manage your stuff and your activities, rather than being forced to fit your things into someone else’s system. If you have $10K in hand to make your home more “you,” consider having custom organizing systems built into your closet, office, pantry, or garage, tailored to your family’s stuff and needs.