There are a range of economical home improvements that don’t take much effort but can go a long way. These ideas will add value to your home without breaking your bank account.
Organize your task and get bids well in advance. Look up the best deals from contractors. Plan early and schedule them during slow seasons to get more competitive offers. The best times to schedule these projects:
- Roofing—cold or rainy months
- Indoor renovations—winter or during rainy months
- Heating—late summer, before fall
- Air conditioning—late winter or early spring
- Chimney cleaning— anytime except fall
- Project design—fall and winter
Invest in energy-saving features. This will save you from future expenses. Most contractors now offer energy efficiency improvements at an additional price. These might include higher-efficiency windows; guaranteed air sealing; extra-thick insulation; and higher-efficiency heating, cooling or other appliances. You may ask about additional measures to improve your home’s energy performance. Make an estimate of savings you get from energy to the cost of each upgrade. Payback is the time it takes for the savings to equal the original cost. A period of 7 to 10 years is good. You can save more by doing upgrades during the remodeling process as compared to upgrades added later.
Jump in and do part of the task yourself. This is by far the best way to save. Undertake tasks within your skill range. Once you commit, make sure to complete the work in a timely manner. Any delays can throw off the project schedule and can cost you more in the long run.
Plan for future upgrades if you can’t afford them now. You don’t have to wait until you can build your dream addition all at once. You can get started now and gradually add as your finances allow. But work from a master plan so you don’t have to go back and tear out or upgrade what you’ve already done.
Remodel or move? It may be financially smart to buy a different home rather than invest in your current one. Your house is your most important investment as well as the place you call home. Although you may love your house and neighborhood, check how much your addition would add to the value of your home. Creating a luxury home in a modest neighborhood may not make financial sense. A real estate agent or home appraiser can make a close estimate. If you can’t recoup at least 75 percent of the cost when you sell, at least consider the advantages of buying another house with the space or features you need. It may well be a better investment to move rather than to add on.
Shop smart. You won’t save much by trying to stockpile lumber, drywall, electrical wiring or other basic building materials. But when it comes to the finish materials—carpeting, appliances, faucets, countertops, light fixtures—your own footwork will pay off. Not only do you get exactly what you want, but you also can find bargains, especially if you start collecting these items well in advance. You can even plan to reuse a stylish old stove, distressed hardwood flooring or other items that add a creative touch to a room.
Avoid moving the plumbing or changing the foundation. You can’t always avoid it, but any alteration to these two systems typically adds thousands to a remodeling project. Neither is simple. New plumbing often requires breaking into walls and floors; resizing lines to meet newer plumbing codes; and replacing old, out-of-date pipes. New foundations usually require excavation, concrete and other heavy, expensive work. The price jumps whenever you add these two items, so ask yourself if you really need to move the kitchen sink during a kitchen remodel, or if you really need the extra space in a bathroom bump-out.