For most of us, the home we own is our biggest asset. Keeping on top of maintenance projects and upgrades makes sense, since you’re contributing to the pleasure you and your family can take from the home ownership experience, and investing in its future sale.
One of the best ways to keep up with home improvements is to earmark part or all of your annual income tax return toward some of the most pressing projects. Even a modest investment—installing an in-ground sprinkler system, for instance, or giving the front yard a facelift by adding a stone or brick walkway and some flowering blooms can boost your home’s curb appeal and resale value.
We’ve put together an idea list of five home improvement projects, each under $3,500, that make good investment sense and offer you more opportunity to enjoy your time at home.
1. Replace outdated lighting. Both interior and exterior lighting are important for adding ambiance to the décor without breaking the bank. By installing something as simple and inexpensive as a dimmer, you can control the brightness of any room’s light for as little as $15. If your tax refund allows, you may want to install a combination ceiling fan and light fixture on the sun porch or in the family room to save on A/C bills in the summer and circulate air throughout the space year-round. Your tax refund may provide the opportunity to install a chandelier in your dining room. A new chandelier can change the entire perspective of a room, and if you shop around you’ll find one that is energy saving and appealing.. Consider lighting options for those spaces that never seem to have enough light, such as your laundry room and closets. Appropriate options such as recessed lighting will probably require that you call in an electrician for installation.
2. Lay insulation if it is lacking. Laying insulation in the attic is an easy DIY project for springtime, before temperatures get too high to venture up there. You’re already losing up to 30 percent of the warm air your furnace produces if your insulation is not up to par. Take care of it now, and come fall with its cooler temperatures, you’ll notice the difference right away. While you’re at it, go ahead and caulk around windows and doors for the full effect. This is an inexpensive project that shouldn’t take more than a weekend.
3. Replace an old, weather-beaten front door and/or garage door Not only can a new front door improve your home’s appearance, it can improve security and decrease utility costs. According to Remodeling magazine’s Remodeling 2014 Cost vs. Value Report, the return on your investment for a $1,162 steel entry door replacement project can be as high as 96.6 percent. Fiberglass doors are usually more expensive, but they still make for a wise investment. According to the Remodeling Magazine report, a $2,822 fiberglass entry door project will yield a return of 70.8 percent.
If your garage door has seen better days, it also has an impact on your home’s curb appeal. According to the Cost vs. Value Report, an un-insulated, 16-by-7-foot garage door priced at $1,534 will increase your home’s resale value 83.7 percent ( $1,283.)
4. Replace old windows with weatherized windows. If you’re willing to invest in Energy Star-qualified windows to replace the old, inefficient kind, you can reduce your home’s energy bills by up to 15 percent! Windows are the major causes for loss of heat and air conditioning from the home. While you’re at it, you’ll be reducing the home’s carbon footprint.
If new windows aren’t going to fit into this year’s tax return budget, for just a couple of hundred dollars you can improve your existing home’s energy efficiency by caulking and sealing your existing windows and doors to reduce energy waste by almost 35 percent.
Every day you step into that Pepto Bismal Pink powder room and wonder when you are going to make a change. You might feel the same way about the paint color in your front entryway, the guest bedroom or your own bedroom for that matter. At $40 or less per gallon, paint is an easy and inexpensive go-to DIY project for injecting new life into a room. If you’re planning on selling your home soon, go for soft, neutral tones that have a universal appeal and don’t give the homebuyers a reason to run. Even if you’re not moving, a fresh coat of paint in any room makes for a great update that you deserve.