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 What are the top 5 budget-friendly renovations?

Choosing the right renovations, updates, or upgrades for your home can be confusing. Regardless of your reason for renovating, having your budget and home’s value in mind can help you narrow down your options.

When considering your options before selling, consider that highly visible and noticeable improvements can improve a buyer’s first impressions. This is why the top 5 budget-friendly renovations include:

  1. Painting.
  2. Landscaping.
  3. Efficiency upgrades.
  4. Door replacements.
  5. Minor kitchen improvements.

Since there is no such thing as a second chance at a first impression, you want your property looking fresh and clean. Buyers are generally more attracted to properties that appear maintained, so focusing renovations on meeting those expectations can go a long way.

What kind of painting will improve my home’s value?

Fresh, neutral paint consistently results in higher values and faster sales, and is often the most economical upgrade a property can make before selling. A fresh coat on both the exterior and interior improves first impressions inside and out, which can drive demand and prices.

Property owners should consider a fresh coat of exterior paint in a neutral color to help attract buyers. Few things turn buyers off faster than shabby exterior paint or bold, garish colors. Light shades with contrasting trim enhance curb appeal and encourage buyers to come inside to have a look. 

The same philosophy applies to interior surfaces. Repainting main rooms, entrance ways, and focal areas like kitchens can make a big difference in whether a buyer is willing to pay more for a property. 

How does landscaping affect my home’s value?

Like a fresh coat of exterior paint, landscaping is a big part of a home’s first impression. A simple, fast, and affordable way to improve the appearance of a property is landscaping. Trimming overgrown trees and brush might seem daunting, but the results can be immediate.

Sellers should remove dead or dying plants, cut overgrown grass, and remove weeds to improve the appearance of a property. The front yard and walkways are the first areas a buyer will see, so properly edging them and removing unsightly plants will put your best foot forward.

A bare yard that looks maintained or ready for planting is more appealing to buyers than an overgrown one.

What efficiency upgrades are budget-friendly?

A low-cost way to instantly give a dated property a fresh lease on life is also pretty easy.

Replacing old-style incandescent light bulbs with modern, high-efficiency bulbs signals to buyers that the property is move-in ready. You can also change the color of your lightbulbs, from yellow to bright white, for example, to provide a more modern, clean feel. The best part is that if you can change a light bulb, you can make the upgrade yourself. Buying energy-efficient bulbs in bulk can also save you money.

Light bulbs are not the only low-cost, simple upgrade. Swapping out faucets and shower heads with modern, low-use designs takes minutes, but can add value in the eyes of buyers.

Can new doors really help my property value?

One of the most effective renovation secrets out there for getting buyers’ attention is also one of the simplest that many homeowners can do themselves.

Refinishing or replacing old doors may be as simple as removing a few screws or hinge pins and hanging a new door. The front door is the priority since it is what potential buyers see first. 

If a new door is out of the question, as some doors may be more costly to replace, a coat of paint in a contrasting color can instantly give the entranceway a fresh appearance. Also, the lower edges of doors, and the trim, take a beating from feet, pets, and scuff marks. A little paint can go a long way when it comes to not distracting potential buyers. If refinishing your front door is too large of a project to take on, minimally, deep clean the existing front door and trim.

Are kitchen projects worth it?

A slightly more expensive and challenging renovation that adds value is repairing old, dated, and worn surfaces in the kitchen.

The kitchen is the most heavily used room in the house and buyers know this. As you might expect, a coat of fresh, white or neutral paint on cabinets and the ceiling removes stains and brightens the area. Other small improvements, like changing out cabinetry hardware, can also pay off.

Adding a backsplash, under cabinet LED lighting, or even replacing outdated countertops might involve a bit of work, or even hiring a contractor, but the change might be the difference between getting one offer or multiple offers.

Full scale kitchen renovations rarely see the full return on investment, however, simple, less costly, yet thoughtful updates can improve a home’s selling price and drive interest.

How can I decide which home improvement task has the best return on investment?

It can be tempting to take on too big of a project or simply decide that renovations are not worth the effort. Speaking with an experienced, local realtor can be a good place to start. Or, you may want to research other properties with similar amenities and features.

As you plan, assess what changes you can make that are affordable. Many projects might seem outside of your skillset, but they can present opportunities to save money. Repairing doors or other minor repairs can be done without hiring a contractor if you take the time to learn the process and put in the effort to make the renovations yourself.

What home improvement tasks add value, but are not budget-friendly?

One way sellers get into trouble is by making major renovations that can eat into the profits after a sale. In some cases, sellers can lose money making changes that require a large upfront investment. 

Premium flooring replacement and extensive renovations to bathrooms and kitchens are examples of expensive projects that can eat into profits. There are times when major projects can be important, like when the roof needs replacement, or plumbing needs to be fixed. But if you are looking for a quick turnaround, focus on simple, cost effective aesthetics. For example, if a room needs new flooring, consider neutral, budget-friendly options that can be easily upgraded by the buyer.

How can I make sure my renovation or home project stays on budget?

Runaway project costs may cause homeowners looking to make simple renovations to have regrets. Underestimating costs and failing to understand project complexity are usually to blame. It can be helpful to add 20% to your budget to account for the unexpected.

DIY is the best low-cost approach, but sometimes you need to hire a contractor. If you do, written contracts that restrict contractors from turning simple projects into larger, more expensive jobs can help. You can stipulate the maximum cost and the full scope of a project so that you don’t overrun the budget. You may want to compare a contractor’s standard agreement against the templates below:

It is also a good idea to solicit multiple bids before settling on a contractor, and reviewing the contracts each offer to compare the offered terms. If your project requires permits, you may want to know who is expected to pay for these. You may find that doing so provides you with some leverage to negotiate certain terms.

If you have more questions about working with contractors, or selling your property, reach out to Rocket Lawyer network attorney for affordable legal advice.

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.

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