Thinking of going the DIY route for a home improvement project? Well you’re not alone. Nearly three-quarters of homeowners have completed a DIY project in the past three years. However, 40 percent of them wished they hadn’t, according to a new survey from home design site Zillow Digs.
Deciding whether to do it yourself or hire professional help is a common question. To help homeowners make better decisions related to tackling home improvement projects, Zillow Digs asked homeowners from around the country which projects they regretted the most and the least. The results of the survey are revealed below.
Top 5 most-regretted DIY projects
1. Add or expand a room (such as a bathroom or bedroom)
Remember how during last year’s holiday dinner, you optimistically offered your home to host the entire family for the next big get-together?
Fast-forward through the endless winter, the trees blooming again, and back into fall – you’re now only about a month out from Turkey Day. If you’ve been delaying a giant kitchen update or bathroom refresh, the next few fall weekends are the perfect time to make these spaces ready for the upcoming influx of guests (and for your personal enjoyment, too!).
All you need to complete either room upgrade is two big-impact, yet entirely basic DIY, projects: painting cabinetry and changing out your faucet fixtures.
1. Color your cabinets
The beauty of kitchen cabinets truly lies in the eye of the beholder. So if those selected by a previous homeowner still appear in good shape, but just aren’t quite your style, don’t waste big bucks on replacements. Instead, with just a bucket of paint and a free weekend or two, you can give your cabinets a total makeover for very little money.
First, remove all of the hardware – door pulls, hinges, and knobs – and pull out any drawers, doors, or adjustable shelves to be painted separately. Then wipe down all surfaces twice: once with warm soapy water, followed by a clear rinse to remove any dirt, grit, or grease.
Once the cabinets dry, scuff them up with fine, 120- or 140-grit sandpaper to help the primer adhere, and vacuum up all the leftover sawdust.
Next, brush a coat of primer onto all surfaces, and allow it to dry completely. Lightly sand the primer with 400-grit sandpaper, wipe off the dust, and spread on a thin first coat of paint.
Take a two-day break to allow the paint to dry completely, then repeat: sand, wipe, and paint a second coat.
Once that top coat has dried thoroughly, reattach the hinges and hang the doors. Finally, screw in the old hardware or, for a full transformation, add new knobs and pulls to complete the makeover.
2. Swap out old sink fixtures
Nothing dates a kitchen or bathroom more than an unfashionable faucet – or worse, one that leaks. Simply swapping out this fixture can give your sink or vanity a fresh face while also saving water, thanks to today’s models with built-in aerators that cut water usage by up to one-third.
Lucky for you, it’s one project that’s easy enough to pick up on your own. When you’re ready to replace the faucet, shut off the water supply via the valves under the sink. Disconnect the supply lines from the faucet using an adjustable wrench or, for better reach, a basin wrench.
Then undo the left rod, remove the nuts from under the faucet, and unscrew the slip nut on the trap. Slide a bucket underneath your plumbing to catch any water that drains out, and unscrew the drain flange from the tailpiece.
Follow the manufacturer’s directions for installing the new faucet through the mounting holes in the sink. Then, reconnect the drain: Screw the drain nut all the way down on the drain body, and push the gasket over it.
Apply a small amount of silicone under the flange, and position the drain body on the bottom of the sink, making sure that the pivot hole is facing the back, and then screw the flange on from the top. Tighten the nut and gasket underneath.
Install the drain rod by unscrewing the pivot nut on the drain body and inserting the horizontal rod through the hole in the stopper; replace the nut. Push the horizontal rod down, and secure the lift rod to the strap with the screw.
Finally, reconnect the supply lines to the faucet and give it a go, turning on the hot and cold water for about a minute. While the water is running, check all the connections for leaks and tighten any, if necessary.
Then wash your hands of all the hard work, and relax knowing that your home is guest-ready.
Reclaimed wood can be recovered from a wide variety of sources, but it most frequently comes from timber framing and decking used in old barns, factories, and warehouses. Some tell-tale signs of reclaimed wood include nail holes, manufacturer stamps, and markings. Other unique qualities, like variation and depth of color or unusual patterning, can be a result of it being stored in vessels like wine barrels, beer casks, and other containers.
Additionally, reclaimed timber is usually cut from strong, mature trees (unlike the younger, weaker trees used today for lumber), and is less prone to splitting. Because of these aspects, many designers choose to use reclaimed wood rather than virgin timber in their projects.
Here are eight different projects that incorporate reclaimed wood in distinct ways.
Ceiling turned to walls
Salvaged wood from multiple origins come together in this project in Buenos Aires by architects Teresa Sarmiento and Nicolas Tovo. They designed the home for their own family with the intention of celebrating recycled materials-floor boards of repurposed Brazilian pine and wall boards from the ceiling of a tenement in a local Buenos Aires neighborhood. The boards were cut down to size and oriented vertically to bring the eye upward to a clerestory window and small white beams.
A small, efficient home in Seattle designed by SHED Architecture & Design incorporated wood on the exterior and interior of the home, and even used salvaged wood from the residence that had previously stood on the site. Although the 100-year-old bungalow was demolished, the treads of one of its staircases were repurposed in the new home as a modern, open-riser stair that lets in light from the windows beyond.
Even a few pieces of salvaged lumber can have a big impact. This entryway in a Brooklyn townhouse, renovated by Bangia Agostinho Architecture, reused hemlock fir joists from the existing building structure as casework around the main entry door. The trim has a simple, modern profile, ensuring that it makes a contemporary statement. In the entryway is another repurposed piece of wood that was charred in a fire more than 100 years ago. It has since been painted and repainted – creating a unique patina and texture – and transformed into a bench.
Accent wall and headboard
In a project in Quebec, Canada, a 1924 building was renovated by Bourgeois Lechasseur Architects. The renovation sought to modernize the apartment while preserving the historical elements – in particular, reusing wooden boards that were salvaged during demolition. The unfinished boards act as a rustic, earthy accent wall and headboard, while the surrounding white walls and crisp bed linens keep the room contemporary.
From flooring to doors
This loft in Brooklyn, New York, used almost all reclaimed, recycled, or diseased wood for everything from the flooring – salvaged from a barn constructed in the 1800s in the Allegheny Mountains in Ohio – to the doors, which were saved from a mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut. Shelving, walls, and ceilings throughout the apartment are covered with wood that came from butternut trees in a blighted forest in Vermont, where worm infestations created intricate, unique patterns in the diseased wood. Although the apartment is located in New York, the different pieces of lumber inside come from all over the country.
Structural elements and beyond
Different types of reclaimed wood, each from different sources, steal the show in this residence in the Scottish countryside by Glasgow-based architect Andrew McAvoy of Assembly Architecture. Thick, deep oak beams were reclaimed and reused for structural elements, while the maple flooring was salvaged from an old school in the nearby rural village of Aberdeen. The reclaimed wood was a critical contributor to the goal of sustainability in the home.
Posts and beams
As barns become obsolete, they become fruitful sources of salvaged wood, like this house in the Catskills in Bovina, New York. Architect Kimberly Peck designed a home for a Norwegian couple that was looking for the perfect mix of warm, Scandinavian design and mid-century modern. The wood boards on the walls and the posts and beams are all reclaimed, but from different sources. The structural elements were recycled from a barn built in 1840, and the reclaimed planks on the walls were stained with a gray wash to match the other wood.
A fine library
High ceilings and natural light prevent this small library that’s clad in reclaimed wood from feeling overwhelming or oppressive. The wood, a salvaged spotted gum, is a durable wood that’s native to Australia and is often used in structural, exterior, and interior applications. It ranges from a deep, reddish tone to a much lighter, almost yellow-white color. The library was part of a renovation of a family residence by Melbourne-based architects Andrew Maynard and Mark Austin of Andrew Maynard Architects.
In an increasingly do-it-yourself world, homeowners are now taking on more improvement jobs themselves. And while many projects are easy to pull off – even for the most novice DIYers – some are better left to a professional.
Here’s a guide to when it’s a good idea to DIY, and when it’s better to hire someone who’s got the tools, knowledge and skills to make your home the best it can be.
DIY: Laying down flooring or putting up a kitchen backsplash has become increasingly DIY-friendly as companies come up with easy-to-use products, such as snap-and-click floorboards and peel-and-stick tiles. Many online tutorials can show you how to properly grout bathroom tile, lay a subfloor, and more. If you feel confident installing a tiled backsplash or putting in some new floorboards – and have the time to commit to the project – go for it.
Hire a pro: Though these sorts of installations are becoming easier for the everyday homeowner, there still might be times when you want to invest in a pro. If you’re replacing the flooring in your entire house, have uneven flooring or lots of tricky corners, or simply don’t have the time for a project this involved, bring in a professional to make a quick job of it. With tile, if you want special accent features or are working with a difficult-to-use type of stone, then your local contractor will be able to help get it just right.
DIY: Electrical work can be very dangerous if not done correctly. If you just need to do simple jobs like changing out switch plates, hanging a new light fixture, or figuring out how to hide the cords for your TV, then generally you are safe to do it yourself. Resources online will show how to make simple electrical fixes. Whenever you are working with electricity, make sure to turn off the power to that area of the house, and only use tools and parts meant for electrical work.
Hire a pro: Basically, anything above the level of switching out a light fixture should be left to a pro. If you want to have outlets grounded, add lights where there were none previously, fix your electric fireplace or tackle anything that looks complicated or difficult, absolutely hire someone. Messing around with electricity is extremely dangerous and, unless you know what you’re doing, you could get seriously hurt.
DIY: Painting is usually fairly low-risk and easy for anyone of any skill level. It’s very simple to grab some painter’s tape, a roller or two, your favorite hue and paint away. Most interior painting is DIY-able, and it’s more cost-effective than hiring a pro. Make your project safe by securing ladders and keeping windows open to ventilate fumes. Before you open up that paint can, be sure to consider the amount of time, cost of materials, and the strain painting might take on your body.
Hire a pro: If you’re looking to paint the exterior of your house, it’s generally easier to let a professional company handle it so you don’t have to deal with tall ladders, working around foliage, or spending all your free time completing the project. Though it can be expensive, it’s still a good option, especially if you don’t feel able-bodied enough. The same goes for cathedral ceilings or lots of intricate work inside your home. And if your house is older and has any lead paint inside or out, call a professional and have them look at it or remove it for you – otherwise you risk exposure to health hazards.
DIY: Stick to simple fixes like switching out sink fixtures, unclogging drains, or making easy repairs to your toilet. When you go to pick out new hardware or sink fittings, ask an employee about the best method to install it. Most easy plumbing upgrades just involve switching off the water and using some elbow grease.
Hire a pro: If you are planning on changing out toilets or tubs, it’s generally best to call someone trained for the job. Porcelain gets heavy, and can be tricky to maneuver and hook up. This also goes for adding completely new piping where there was none previously, or putting in a hot tub or water feature. Never dig without having the proper permits and calling the county to see if your house is on top of important utilities.
DIY: Simple demolitions or renovations are okay for some homeowners to handle – if you know your stuff. If you’re ripping out old kitchen cabinets or tearing out an island, it’s generally pretty safe to take them out yourself. As long as you wear protective gear and are sure that you aren’t going to hit any utilities, such as electrical wires or plumbing pipes, go for it. If you are building anything outside the home, like a deck or shed, make sure that you have the proper permits and build it properly so it doesn’t fall apart after a year.
Hire a pro: If you’re building an addition or are demoing walls or whole rooms, consider getting a professional on the scene. A lot of permits and specifications must be managed for an addition or big project, so using a contractor will guarantee that your renovations are legal and up-to-code. As for demolition, having a pro do it for you will ensure you don’t accidentally hit any electrical or plumbing lines, and that whatever is being demoed won’t affect the structural integrity of your home.
These are general suggestions and precautions – only you as the homeowner know what you are capable of. If you are a DIY pro, have extensive experience, or know friends that do, you may be able to take on some higher-level work and skip hiring a pro. On the other hand, if a project seems out of your scope of capabilities or too dangerous to take on, call in your local handyman or contractor.
Whether you take the DIY route or get help from a pro, renovating your home can be a rewarding and beneficial experience. See home design inspiration to get you started.
Spring cleaning is all about getting our homes ready for a new season of sunshine, warmth, and time outdoors – and indoors, too! Now’s the time to wipe off the grime, clear out the cobwebs, and get those living spaces ready for the year ahead.
When you put together your spring cleaning checklist this year, consider adding the following tasks, if you aren’t already planning to do them. These projects will not only put the cherry on top of the clean-home sundae, but also make your home more functional.
Best of all, you can knock out most of these jobs in a weekend.
Wash windows, inside and out
Some say clean windows make your whole home look better, and we think it’s true.
For a DIY cleaning job that yields professional results, use a solution of water, ammonia, and white vinegar. Apply the solution to your windows with a large sponge, and remove it with a professional-grade squeegee.
Clean refrigerator and air conditioner coils
These appliances create a cooling effect by circulating air through the coils. Over time, dust builds up on the coils and decreases their efficiency, making your refrigerator or air conditioner work a lot harder.
Unplug the appliance, then vacuum out the coils with your vacuum’s crevice tool. You can also use a special refrigerator-coil cleaning brush, available at most hardware stores.
Check ceiling fans
Clean your ceiling-fan blades to remove winter dust build up.
And if you reversed your ceiling fan’s direction to clockwise for the winter, turn it back to counterclockwise for the warmer months. This sends the air straight down, creating a cooling effect.
Clean dryer vent
Cleaning a dryer vent is easier than you might imagine. First, unplug the dryer from the power source. Next, clean out the vent with a special dryer-vent cleaning brush or a vacuum.
Even if you vacuum regularly, a thorough carpet cleaning once a year will reach deep down into the fibers to clean out debris, dust, and food particles.
You can hire a professional to do the job, or rent a professional-grade carpet cleaner from a home improvement store.
Inspect roof, gutters, and chimneys
Spring is the perfect time to check your roof for damage that may have occurred over the winter. If you can’t use a ladder to get up on the roof, try inspecting it with binoculars.
Check decks and patios
If the finish on your wooden deck still looks good, that’s great! You might just need to clean the deck to get it ready for summer.
If the finish appears to be worn, then you’ll want to consider both cleaning and resealing the deck. For decks made of composite material, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and preserving the deck.
Prep lawn equipment
Get those lawn mowers, weed whackers, and pressure washers out of storage, turn them on, and make sure they are running properly. If they’re not, now is the time to take them to a shop for repairs.
Clean outside furniture
Use Murphy Oil Soap for wood furniture. For most other types of outdoor furniture, a solution of dishwashing liquid and water should do the trick.
Freshen up your front entrance
Sweep and/or wash the front porch and steps. Put out a new welcome mat. Add a pot or two of brightly colored annuals, and your home will be ready for spring!
For many, summer’s arrival signals the end of school, summer Fridays at the office, and, of course, a chance to kick back at the beach.
But for ambitious homeowners, it means just one thing: It’s time to tackle those outdoor home-improvement projects that have been waiting in the wings.
Just one question remains: When should you save some green and tackle a project yourself — and when is it smarter (and safer) to call in the big guns?
To find out, we talked with contractor Danny Lipford, a nationally syndicated TV and radio host based in Mobile, AL, and Rory McCreesh, a master builder and founder of Duce Construction in New York City, to get advice for getting the job done right.
While you’re probably well equipped with mesh skimmers and brushes to remove leaves and algae, there’s one area in which you may need help: shocking the water with chemicals.
DIY or hire a pro? This surprisingly simple chore is all yours.
Getting the job done: “[Maintaining your pool] is a great DIY project,” Lipford says. “Retail pool supply stores like Leslie’s, are very helpful in analyzing your pool’s condition and recommending the needed chemicals to have a summer-ready pool.”
All you have to do is take a sample of pool water to the supply store in a sanitized container. Once you tell the clerk your pool’s dimensions, they can calculate the proper ratio for agents like chlorine and cyanuric acid, and provide detailed instructions on how — and when — to add them to your pool.
Summer project No. 2: Landscaping
From planting petunias to installing a flagstone path, a little landscaping can go a long way when it comes to beautifying your property.
But with so many types of flora to choose from and the perplexing science of soil to contend with, you might be wondering whether you need a landscape architect to make your yard really sing.
DIY or hire a pro? For the most part, small-scale tasks — mulching beds, shrub pruning, and weeding — can easily be successful DIY projects. “The beauty of minor landscaping is that it requires few yard tools, very little skill, and, in most cases, little time to achieve fantastic results,” Lipford says.
The only exception: breaking out the chainsaw and going to work on that overgrown oak in the front yard.
“Pruning large trees should be done by a reputable, experienced tree-care company or arborist,” McCreesh says. “Not only is it a skill that requires talent and expertise, but it also poses safety hazards, as the work entails ladders and sharp tools.”
Getting the job done: If gardening is one of the top landscaping projects on your list this summer, Lipford recommends first researching your location on the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to ensure you’re working with the right plants for your region of the country, climate, and sun exposure.
Regardless of the plants you choose, Lipford says they all have one thing in common when it comes to successful care. “All plants need proper irrigation. Installing a soaker hose is an easy DIY way of providing a constant stream of water,” he says. “A soaker hose will run about $ 15 to $ 20, can be partially buried, and can even be attached to a simple timer for another $ 15.”
Ready to hire someone to help you with that tree-trimming project? Lipford issues one word of caution: “Never let anyone work in or around your home without having proper insurance, like general liability and workman’s comp. This is important because it protects you in the event of an accident.”
Summer project No. 3: Pest control
From mosquito bites to chewed-through vegetable plants, creepy-crawlies are an unwanted reality of the warm-weather months.
Sure, you can load up on citronella candles, but how much sweeter would it be to enjoy a bug-free summer — for your family and your tomato plants?
DIY or hire a pro? Call in the experts.
“Typical services include pest control for termites, ants, spiders, cockroaches, beetles, biting and stinging insects, rodents, and wildlife control,” McCreesh says. “Most homeowners do not have the necessary chemicals on hand or the knowledge required to effectively and safely manage this task.”
Getting the job done: Just how much you’ll shell out varies based on the size of your yard, whether the interior of your home is included in the work, and if there are any issues to address — such as a termite infestation, McCreesh says.
He recommends seeking out a seasonal contract as opposed to a one-time treatment. Good pest control companies providing longer-term services will monitor their work and re-treat as necessary.
Just confirm the fee structure for follow-up appointments. “It should be very clear if there is an additional charge or if it is included in the plan,” McCreesh says.
Summer project No. 4: Gutter repairs
Clean, secure gutters keep wastewater, leaves and other natural nuisances from weighing down your roof. So unless you want debris hanging out like a ticking time bomb overhead, it’s important to repair and patch any holes, seal leaky joints, and secure any part of the gutter that’s pulled away from the house as soon as you notice it.
DIY or hire a pro? Go with the pro.
“Even though [certain types of] gutter repair can be easy to do yourself, this type of project can frequently result in injury from falls,” Lipford says. “Gutter specialists have unique equipment to create custom gutter sections and links on-site for a home, and can do it inexpensively for about $ 75 to $ 180. It’ll give you a better result than using gutter repair materials from a big-box store.”
Getting the job done: When it comes to seeking out a qualified, licensed, and insured gutter repair company, Lipford suggests relying on references from friends, family or a list of recommends from your local chapter of the National Association of Home Builders.
“You might get a cheaper price by taking a chance [on a random company], but you also take a risk with the possibility of further damage, or someone not performing the work that was agreed upon,” Lipford cautions. “It can cost you peace of mind and additional expenses if you need to have work re-done or get damage repaired.”
Summer project No. 5: Deck work
One of the greatest pleasures of summer is spending a warm evening on the back deck, under the starry sky.
But thanks to the wrath of winter, you may have some repair work cut out for you first.
DIY or hire a pro? It depends on the scale of the project.
“Deck repairs that involve replacing or securing loose or damaged wood and staining are all manageable DIY projects,” Lipford says. “But if a deck is in need of structural repair or needs to be completely replaced, it would be better to bring in an experienced carpenter or decking company.”
Getting the job done: DIY deck projects can be a pretty easy and satisfying feat — with the right equipment.
“I recommend using a pressure washer for cleaning,” Lipford says, adding that renting one from a hardware store could run about $ 100 per day, depending on your location. “It does not require experience or great skill, but take care not to get the tip too close to the surface of the deck boards, which can cause damage.” If the thought of wielding a pressure washer is too intimidating, try a deck brightener, which Lipford says you can easily snag at a home center in one-gallon cans. “Apply it to the deck’s surface, and wait 15 minutes,” he says. “Then lightly scrub the deck with a nylon brush, and rinse away grime with a regular hose.”
But if you’re leaning toward a project that’s larger in scale or more labor-intensive than a simple cleaning and staining, do your homework.
“Solicit bids from two to three professionals,” Lipford says. “And get everything in writing, including the scope of the work and total cost. Taking the time to make the right selection for someone working in your home is time well spent.”
With winter approaching, long days of sunshine, colorful fall foliage, and green lawns are coming to an end. So too are the hours spent outside, raking up leaves and washing your windows. But don’t fully retreat into your humble abode to hibernate quite yet — especially if your home is on the market.
There are projects you can start now, when it’s just starting to get cooler outside, to ensure your home will look gorgeous, warm, and inviting throughout the upcoming winter months — whether you have a home for sale in Burlington, VT, or Seattle.
Plant flowers that bloom in the winter
Fall is the time to plant early-blooming bulbs such as crocuses, which will flower in late winter, even if they’re covered in snow. Other bulb flowers such as daffodils and tulips are hardy enough to survive cold winter temperatures below ground and bloom beautifully in early spring/late winter. Perennials, shrubs, and trees also do well with a fall planting.
According to the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP), the warm fall soil is great for root development, and plants have several months to establish themselves before the stress of the summer heat. Get your early planting done and enjoy a little taste of spring curb appeal while you’re still cuddled up in your flannel pajamas and slippers.
Install landscape lighting
Lighting is often overlooked but can make such a huge difference when strategically placed and tinted correctly. Consider sticking a few vintage lanterns along your driveway, or installing a soft-hued light bulb in your porch light. You could also light up your walking path with solar lights and finish off the look with some statuary or tree up-lighting.
Pro tip: Less is usually more for path lighting; too many lights, and you may create a runway effect.
Lawn and garden maintenance
Now is the time to make sure you’re helping your lawn make it through the winter, so your grass and other plants survive the harsh weather. NALP recommends applying 2 to 3 inches of mulch to protect plant roots from extreme temperatures.
The mulch barrier will also preserve moisture if your region doesn’t receive enough winter precipitation. Bonus: A thick layer of woodsy mulch lends a nice aesthetic touch to an otherwise barren landscape.
There’s not much you can do about brown, unsightly-looking grass during the winter months. But you can rake and remove the leaves that build up from falling foliage and winter storms. The raking work will pay off big time in the spring for lawn health and also keep it looking its best this season and into spring. A tidy lawn is the key for curb appeal in the long winter months.
Small upgrades and holiday decor
Alone, a new mailbox, doorknob, or set of address numbers on your house can seem inconsequential. But when replaced together as a set, these little details can make all the difference in the world — particularly from a distance. Now is the time to make a weekend project out of replacing all the small stuff for a big aesthetic reward.
From lights and greenery to candles in the windows, you can really get creative for the holidays with embellishments that won’t die off when the snow starts. There’s no need to get all Clark Griswold with the front yard, but tasteful, minimalist decor can really beautify your home.
There’s plenty to be done this fall to enhance your curb appeal through the winter months. Work to extend the interior’s cozy, well-kept feeling to the exterior of your home. Not only will you save yourself some maintenance in the spring, but also your home will shine all winter long.
Fall is prime time for sprucing up your yard and installing new landscaping projects. But your biggest mistake may be focusing solely on planting that new plum tree and neglecting the projects (and repairs) that will truly lead to a serious return on your investment in the long run.
“A home that is maintained, just like a car, will last longer and perform better,” says Keith Thompson, a real estate broker with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Carolinas Realty in Charlotte, NC.
“Maintaining your property may be the best investment you make,” adds Justin Udy, a real estate agent with Century 21 Everest Realty Group in Midvale, UT. “By making a consistent effort to maintain your home, you will find you save money, avoid costly tearouts and repairs, and your home will look and feel like it’s in excellent shape.”
The old adage about art can also apply to curb appeal: We know it when we see it. And we also know when it’s really, really good. This is all to say that investing money in your yard, be it with new plantings, adding some mulch, or simply maintaining your lawn, can go a long way.
“Stand at the curb in front of your house and take a good look at the whole house and yard,” suggests Patty Brockman, a licensed real estate broker at Windermere Stellar Real Estate in Portland, OR. “In fall and winter, plants and shrubs start to die off and need to be pruned back. Consider adding some deep, rich topsoil to the beds to freshen it up and to provide added nutrients.”
The same tactic can be applied to the facade of your home. “A fresh coat of paint on trim and shutters before the temps get too low will help to keep those areas protected from the effects of severe winter weather and help prevent moisture damage,” adds Brockman.
2. Check that HVAC
Besides ensuring that your climate-control system runs smoothly when it’s cold out (and also during the sweltering summer heat), having your HVAC serviced on a proper schedule can really reap you a big return on investment when time comes to sell.
“Having the major systems in the home serviced and inspected on a regular basis can save the homeowner money down the road if a minor problem is found and corrected before it becomes something bigger,” says Keith Thompson. Plus, being able to show a potential buyer that you’ve had the HVAC properly serviced while you lived in the home goes a long way when it comes time for negotiation.
To be specific: It’s important to have a roof that performs well. “When everything has been dry for so long, surfaces such as roofs and seams start to crack and break down, just like windshield wipers on your car,” explains Heather Witt Leikin, a real estate agent with Partners Trust Real Estate Brokerage & Acquisitions in Los Angeles. “You might not notice the problems until you are in a major storm and you start to get water intrusion. These are all things you really should start checking on now. Doing so saves you money from having problems with leaks in the house that lead to damage to interiors and foundations and eventually mold, which lower the value of your house.”
4. Watch your windows
“As we head into the cold season, it might be time to think about that window upgrade,” says Leikin. “Have you been putting off replacing your drafty single-pane windows? Replacing them now will help keep the heat in for the winter, ensuring that you are not only more comfortable, but you are not paying to heat the outdoors.”
Bonus: “Buyers love new windows! Keeping yourself toasty and saving you money will also appeal to people interested in buying your house,” she adds.
5. Look out for water
Water can be a home’s worst nightmare, whether it’s flooding, roof leaks, or dampness and mold. While it’s not the sexiest of home improvements, it will prove to be a great return on your investment when you consistently check on things that might be susceptible to water damage, says Justin Udy.
“Water is always an issue. It can cause mold, attract termites, and turn into all sorts of nightmares for homeowners,” he explains. Also, “Check your lot’s grading. By maintaining a proper grading slope, you’re ensuring that the grading is taking water away from foundation walls.”
6. Drain your drain
Or, rather, your irrigation. Hiring a landscaper to winterize your irrigation system helps prevent it from freezing and bursting during cold weather, a home repair that can cost hundreds of dollars. “If it’s not done right in the fall, it can be a serious problem come later winter,” says Udy.
What home projects are you planning to tackle this fall? Share your plans in the comments below!
As summer draws to an end, everyone enjoys lazing in the last of the year’s warm, sunny days. But along with the end-of-summer bucket list – one last visit to the public pool, a Cracker Jack-fueled trip to the baseball stadium, and the grand finale to a season of backyard barbecuing – a number of chores must be tackled before autumn’s chill sets in.
Cap the season with five DIY projects that will ready your house for colder weather, and have significant payoff in the months ahead. Plus, with these pro tips, you’ll make short work of your to-do list so you can get back to soaking up those last rays of sunshine.
Put on a fresh coat
If you’ve been meaning to paint a room in your home, now’s the perfect time. Heat and humidity are down, yet it’s still pleasant enough outdoors to keep the windows open while you work, helping your new look dry faster.
First, cover your floors, then prep by sanding and filling any holes in your walls. For flawless results, you’ll want to start by cutting in a clean line at the corners and along the edges where wall meets trim before coating the rest of the wall with paint. Dip a brush about a third of the way into the paint, and tap off the excess – don’t wipe!
When the brushwork is done and you’re ready to roll, apply paint in short, overlapping strokes. Wait until the paint is completely dry (two to four hours for latex, 24 hours for oil-based paint) before adding a second coat, otherwise your refreshed room may be marred by streaks, peeling, or uneven color.
Wake up your windows
The days are getting shorter, so to maximize your home’s natural light through the end of the year, give your windows a thorough washing. Start by banishing dirt and dust.
Indoors, use a moistened microfiber cloth; outdoors, where windows are bound to be dirtier, start by spraying them down well with the hose. Next, go at the glass with a vinegar-and-water solution or a commercial cleaner, using a squeegee for professional-quality results.
While you’re at it, survey your screens and repair or replace where necessary. Now that you’ve switched off the air conditioner and haven’t yet turned on the heat, you’ll want to keep your windows open – and you’ll enjoy those fresh breezes more if they’re not accompanied by bugs.
This is also a good time to check that your window locks are working so your home will be secure.
Retire your patio gear
Your outdoor furniture and grill work hard all summer, so give them the TLC they deserve before packing them away for the winter. Wipe tables and chairs with a dry cloth to get rid of surface grime, pollen and bugs, then follow up with a good hosing.
Fabric cushions may need a bit more attention to deter mold and mildew (check labels for cleaning instructions). Be sure all items are completely dry before covering them loosely or moving them into storage. A little care after each season of use will preserve your furniture and cushions, ultimately increasing their lifespan.
Similarly, when you’re closing up the grill for the season, degrease it with a warm, soapy cloth, then treat any moving parts to a light application of lubricating oil.
If your grill is gas powered, make sure the tank’s valve is closed, then detach the tank and store it outside, standing upright, in a well-ventilated area.
Rig up a mudroom
Not all homes are built with a spot to collect wet outerwear and footwear, but most could use one, especially once nasty weather sets in.
To make your entryway more functional and encourage both family and guests to kick off their shoes at the door, consider adding a large, standalone piece of furniture with a bench seat, cubbies, and hooks that can handle everyone’s gear. If space is limited, slide a slim, sturdy console table into the hall, place baskets beneath for shoes and boots, and station a coat rack nearby.
This mud area should be as close to the front door as possible to prevent slushy, muddy tracks throughout your house. You may have to remind family members (kids, especially) to stow their stuff before they come charging through. Chalkboard nameplates to designate hooks and shelf space can help.
Get a grip on the garage
Only 30 percent of homeowners actually keep a car in the garage – there’s just not enough room with all the clutter in there. Even if you don’t intend to store the family vehicle in your garage, it could no doubt use a little tidying up.
Sort through all you’ve amassed and obey the golden rule of tossing everything you haven’t used in two years. Show no mercy to the outgrown, expired, and irreparable.
Arrange keepers by type – tools, sporting goods, and so on – and consider upgrading the shelves and adding see-through stackable bins to maintain order.
Once it’s organized, give the garage a serious sweeping and, for a real makeover, coat the floor with an epoxy paint. Just two coats later, the floor will be easier to clean and shielded against grease and oil stains, both common offenders in the garage. It’s best to get this paint job out of the way now, while you can still empty the garage out into the driveway or porch for an afternoon while you work.
Replace your garage’s fixtures and stored items, and you’ll hardly recognize the space.
Finally, ensure that your garage-door opener has a U.L.–listed motor as well as an auto-stop feature, an important safety precaution should a child or pet try to slip in underneath.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to remodeling and upgrading your house, and deciding where to put your precious dollars can be tough. Many of these remodeling decisions can be made based on whether or not you’re planning to stay in your home long term.
Let’s take a look at the places where a $ 10,000 investment in your home can go the furthest.
If you are planning to sell your home within the next two years
It’s important to remember that there’s not always a direct relationship between exactly how much you put into a specific renovation project and exactly how much you get out of it.
If you consider home improvements item by item, you’ll likely conclude that undertaking almost any individual home improvement prior to the sale of your home is a losing proposition. However, when you add small improvements together with vision and creativity, you create an overall house improvement and a big return on your investment. The whole package is far more valuable than the sum of its parts!
The top six target projects
1. Kitchen. A $ 10,000 investment is not going to get you a full kitchen makeover and leave enough extra cash to make many other upgrades. Instead, think about upgrading tired old appliances. Cabinet resurfacing and upgrading the countertops can be very affordable and give a big splash. One word of caution: Make sure you don’t overspend for your neighborhood. Know your market.
2. Master bath. Again, here in the master bath, $ 10,000 will not go very far, but you can create a wow effect. Consider upgrading the shower to a frameless glass shower enclosure, adding new fixtures, and maybe a new vanity and countertops.
3. Paint. Repaint the interior of your home and keep it neutral with soft earth tones. Then make sure you pick up some fantastic pillows and accessories to add punches of color.
4. New carpet. No homebuyer wants to walk barefoot across your tired, old, stained, dirty, worn-out carpet. When you replace the existing carpet, go with a neutral shade.
5. Curb appeal. This is a low-cost no-brainer. Trim up the hedges, give the grass some TLC, plant some flowers, and give the front door a fresh coat of paint in a wonderful accent color. Create a strong first impression by adding shiny new house numbers and maybe even a new mailbox. Finally, add in some wonderful outdoor lighting, and presto!
6. Push the inside out. If there’s an existing room that looks out to the backyard, push it out! Replace existing windows with French doors and build a small deck. You’ve just increased the “size” of that room — and added value to the house for very little money.
When you’re planning to stay in your house
If selling isn’t in the cards for you and your family, you can still consider all of the tips above. You’ll enjoy living in an upgraded house, especially if you’re staying put. Additionally, think about these projects for long-term payback.
1. Heating and air system upgrades. New heating and air systems will actually reduce your monthly utility bills over time and are a great investment.
2. Going solar. In sunny climates, investing in solar technology can increase the value of your home and reduce your monthly and yearly utility costs.
Let us know in the comments what affordable home renovation projects you have found to be successful!