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Home Improvements: Can You Recoup Your Costs When You Sell?

Home improvements are exciting. An extra room or a new pool is something that anyone could be happy about.

But many home improvements are poor decisions from a financial perspective. It’s not always obvious which home improvements make the most sense financially. Some of the worst home improvements in terms of recouping your costs are the most popular.

Here are some of the worst offenders for the money:

1. Adding a master suite.Master suites are very common in modern homes, but not as common in older construction. Think about the house in which you grew up. Odds are there was not a large master bedroom with an attached bathroom.

This building project is among the worst when it comes to recouping your costs. You can expect to only get about 52% of your money back at selling. Part of the charm of older homes is in the styling. Leave the master bedroom alone.

2. Sunroom addition.Most of us like big windows and lots of natural light. If you’re in a house with small windows, it might make sense to add a sunroom in lieu of adding larger windows. Unfortunately, a sunroom is one of the worst home improvements to make when looking at the financial picture.

Homeowners can expect to get back $0.49 back for every $1.00 spent.

3. Adding a large garage.If you’re like most people, your garage is crammed full of cars, bikes, lawn tools, and all your stuff that won’t fit in the house. A large garage can be appealing to those that want some space and order. However, most prospective homeowners view a large garage as space that won’t get used.

Instead, consider cleaning out the garage you already have. Get rid of the stuff you don’t use. Sweep it out and paint the interior. You might already have enough space to make it work.

If you build a garage, you’re only going to get back around 54% of the cost.

4. Extra bathroom.This is a very common addition, but it only yields a 53% return at sale time. Plumbing is expensive and adds considerable cost to this project. Consider how much an extra bathroom really means to you.

5. Home office. A home office is less appealing to homebuyers than it used to be. With wireless Internet, a person working at home can choose any room in the house to set up shop. It’s also just as easy to head to the local coffee shop or to an outdoor location.

Converting a spare bedroom to a home office will only deliver back 46% of the cost.

6. Getting a backup generator.Backup generators yield about 60 cents on the dollar when you sell your house. Those in areas more prone to natural disasters tend to see a better recoup rate. Also, it’s more of a challenge to lose your heat in Minnesota in winter than in south Texas, so location has a lot to do with your return on investment.

7. Adding a pool. Unless your home is in Florida, California, or Texas, adding a pool can actually be a detriment to selling your house! Many potential homeowners are driven away by the costs and trouble of maintaining a pool that they would only use for a small portion of the year.

The only home improvement that actually pays for itself is replacing a wood entry door with a steal door. All other home improvements are money losers to varying degrees.

Also, remember that for most projects, half of the cost is labor. If you can do the work yourself, then practically all home improvements will yield at least a small profit. Some can even result in a considerable profit.

Of course, if you intend to stay in your home for many years, follow your own desires when choosing home improvement projects. They’ll bring you enjoyment for many years to come!

If you’re improving your home to get more money at sale time, think of these returns on investment and go with the ones that will most increase the value and salability of your home.

Maintaining your home is the most important thing you can do to ensure your home retains its value. Although it will take some effort on your part, making timely and necessary home improvements will make the home more comfortable for you and your family, while adding to the property value.

Use this worksheet to evaluate whether it’s time for you to do some home improvement projects.

1. Go outside to the street and look at your property. Write down any areas that you notice are not becoming to your property and need attention.




2. Document here what you plan to do to each of these areas to increase your home’s value.






3. Since the kitchen is the most important room of the house, how does your kitchen look? What changes, if any, would you like to make to each of these aspects of your kitchen?

Cabinets: __________________________________________________________________


Flooring: __________________________________________________________________


Countertops: __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________

Lighting: __________________________________________________________________


4. Jot down two changes you can make to your kitchen to make it more marketable.





5. In your bathroom(s), how do the cabinet, sink, countertop, and bathtub look? Do you need to change or remodel any of these elements? If so, what will you do?


6. Record two things you can do to spruce up your bathroom without spending a lot of cash.



7. Evaluate your home’s lighting. Do you have rooms that don’t have enough light? What about rooms where you’ve overdone the lighting? What will you do to change the lighting? Consider simple fixes, too, like changing lamps or putting in a lower wattage light bulb.






8. Have you ever had your insulation level evaluated? If so, when? Have at least 2 experts come out and check out your insulation to see if you home needs more to maintain lower heating and cooling costs. Also, use this space to record names and numbers of insulation experts to call.






9. Looking at each room in your home, how do the walls appear? Are they marked up, faded, or even peeling? Do a walkthrough now to determine which rooms need to be painted. The good news is that paint is an inexpensive way to bring out the best in your home.





Your home is truly your castle. Protect your precious investment by periodically doing proper home improvements.

“It matters less to a person where they are born than where they can live.”


Whenever you invest your effort in a home improvement project, you want to see fantastic results. The home improvement project that’s sure to bring these results is low-cost landscaping. The visual appeal of your yard evokes feelings about your house. Ensuring your landscaping is lovely will make a positive impression on all who see your property.

Try these ideas for simple, low-cost landscaping projects to beautify your home:
1. Drive around your neighborhood and observe other yards. What do you like? Jot

down the elements of landscaping that appeal to you.

Maybe you like low bushes with red flowers or a small tree with lavender blooms.
Do you like the look of flowers growing along the sides of a sidewalk or lush, green grass that contrasts nicely with the light color of the walkway?

Once you know what you prefer, you’ll have an idea of what you want your yard to look like.

2. Remember that a minimal approach is best. A few bushes, a tree or two, and a well-maintained lawn are that’s necessary for a great looking property. It’s not necessary to plant every flower species to create a beautiful yard.

3. Plan your landscaping budget. How much can you realistically set aside to beautify your yard? Include funds for regular fertilizers for your grass, trees, and bushes as they keep your yard looking lush and well kept.

You’ll be surprised how much of a positive change you can bring to the property with a small investment of $500.

Low-Cost Landscaping Highlights Your Home

4. Is your grass healthy and green? All you need for nice looking grass is to mow regularly and occasionally apply fertilizer. A bottle of weed n feed applied in the spring will keep your yard healthy and weed free all season.

If your yard needs more help, cut out a small sample of the grass, place it in a zippered sandwich bag and set off to your local nursery. A sales associate may have advice about how you can make your grass look healthier.

5. Decide where you’d like to have a planting area. Make your home and yard stand out from the others in the neighborhood.

A common place is on either side of the sidewalk leading up to your front door way.
Another well-chosen place to plant bushes or flowers is in the front of your home.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to spend a bundle to make an impact.

6. Introduce some color to your front yard. Use bushes or flowers to liven up your property.

A nice lilac, hibiscus or bougainvillea bush will bring focus and color to your home’s appearance.
A flowering tree placed properly in the front yard will look beautiful and really highlight your house.

Bring attention to your home and increase its value with low-cost landscaping that highlights your home’s front yard.

Bringing real beauty to your front yard doesn’t have to cost an exorbitant amount of money. Make the decision today to perform a low-cost landscaping project in your front yard to highlight your precious home. You’ll be glad you did!

Many home improvements are little more than money pits. Some improvements don’t even appeal to many homebuyers. Over $200 billion is spent every year on home renovations, but how many of those dollars are spent in a way that truly improves the value of the home?

Many people are shocked at how little their improvements added to the sales price of their home.

Some home improvements can boost your home’s resale value and the level of comfort you experience while you’re still living there. Unfortunately, there are other improvements that can cost thousands of dollars and provide little to no return.

These home improvements are likely to pay off better than any other:

1. New siding. From an investment standpoint, fiber cement siding is the way to go. Vinyl siding can crack over time, and aluminum siding ultimately ends up with dents. Even with professional installation, this is still a cost-effective upgrade.

2. New front door. Fiberglass doors are very expensive, but a mid-range steel door looks great and can easily be painted to match your home. The more simple the door, the lower the cost. But steel doors are so inexpensive that you can afford to pick up something nice.

3. Garage door replacement.While no one gets excited about replacing their garage door, some jobs just need to be done. A mid-quality garage door will add to your curb appeal and improve the functionality and sales price of your home. Garage doors are easily painted, too.

4. Wood deck. Nearly everyone loves to sit out on a deck when the weather permits. It’s the perfect transition between indoors and the outside. It effectively adds living space, and the material costs are quite low.

If you’re handy with a circular saw, tape measure, and hammer or drill, you might be able to install your deck yourself.

5. New windows. Newer windows eliminate drafts, reduce radiant heat in the summer, and provide much better insulation than older style windows. They look great, too! While windows can be expensive, the payback is quite good. Compare costs and the amount of insulation. The utility savings can be impressive.

6. Fresh interior paint. Although paint is relatively inexpensive, the labor can be pricey. Fortunately, anyone can tackle this task on their own. You’ll save a lot of money and your house will look great. Take your time and you can do a great job.

Stick to neutral colors that everyone can accept. If you’ll be selling soon, now isn’t the time for unusual colors.

Unless you’re planning on staying in your home for an extended period of time, it’s important to consider how your improvements will affect the sales price of your home. Many improvements do little to increase the value of your home. However, if you’ll be in your home for many years, it’s completely reasonable to place a priority on the enjoyment you’ll receive from the upgrade.

Being the nicest house on the block might be great for the ego, but it’s hard on the pocketbook. Avoid adding features to your home that aren’t appropriate for your neighborhood. If you’re in a middle-class setting, remodeling projects common to luxury homes are likely to be financial disasters.

A little forethought will ensure that your home improvements make your home more attractive, livable, and valuable. Research the costs and expected payback of any improvements you’re considering. Remember to examine the cost of labor. Nearly any project can provide a nice return, especially if you can do the work yourself.

Quick Home Improvements that Make an Impact

Owning a home involves effective money management and the ability to determine when and how to complete various home improvement projects. Because home upkeep is so important to your financial investment in the home, it makes sense to complete quick home improvement projects that make an impact on your home’s appearance and value.

It’s helpful to have a small notebook or journal devoted to your plans for your home.

Having a handy notebook that centers on your home will keep you focused and moving ahead to protect your investment. Any home improvements that you want to complete can be recorded in this notebook.

To spur some ideas on quick home improvements that will have a real impact on your home’s value, survey the list below. Then, you can add any additional home improvement projects you’d like to complete to your own notebook.

1. Paint the outside of your front door. A bright, contrasting-painted door says, “Welcome” as no other improvement does. The cost of painting your front door is minimal but the impact is great.

2. Clean and paint your front porch. As people approach your front door, they can’t help but notice the condition of your front porch. Is it clean? Is it painted a color that complements your home?

Set a couple of well-placed chairs with a small outdoor table and a large potted plant on a clean porch surface and you’ve completed a quick home improvement that will make your home more inviting.

3. Pressure wash the exterior of your house. Over the years, dirt and grime gets 1

stuck on the surface of your home’s exterior, which is difficult to remove. Pressure washing your home will clean and remove debris and brighten its appearance.

Although pressure washing your house involves physical labor, the results will be worth it.

4. Wash all the windows in your home inside and out. Washing windows is a project that involves very little cost. All you need is a bucket, a good squeegee and some cleaning rags. Put a drop of dish detergent in very hot water in your bucket and you’re ready to begin.

Clean windows show that your property is loved and well cared for.

5. Clean the lighting fixtures in your home. Ensure lights are switched off when cleaning them. Then, replace burned-out bulbs and worn-out lamps. Simply get your spray glass cleaner and an old cloth made from a t-shirt and go from room to room, cleaning every light fixture in the house. This quick home improvement will make every room shine.

6. Paint trim molding (baseboard) to freshen up an entire room’s appearance. Believe it or not, sometimes, all you have to do to make a room look new again is to paint the trim. Whether it’s a dark brown stain or a bright white paint, freshening up the trim will bring out the room’s color again.

Home improvement projects don’t have to be big or costly. Quick, inexpensive touchups can make a considerable impact on the look and value of your home.

If you list all the quick home improvement projects you want to complete in your notebook, you’ll be more efficient at completing them. Try some of these quick home improvements to make an impact on your home.

Top 10 Financially Worst Home Improvements

Everyone has at least a few things they’d like to change about their home. But not all additions are financially wise. There are no significant home improvements that will pay for themselves at sale time, unless you can do the work yourself. Of course, some home improvements return much less than others.

If you’re considering any of these home improvements, think twice about if the benefit to you is worth the cost:

If you’re considering a home improvement project, be sure to consider the potential financial loss. The financial loss on some projects might be worth it if you’re staying in the home for a long period of time. Do the math and then decide.

Home Improvement Without the High Cost

Are you looking for ways to add luxury to your home without the high price tag? With some savvy preparation and planning, home improvement projects can be very successful – and bring you awe inspiring results!

Whether you’re simply doing repairs, updating, or planning to turn your home into the home of your dreams, incorporate these money-saving strategies when planning your next home improvement project:

1. Take time to prioritize. Is it more important to have real wood flooring or custom cabinets? Are high-end fixtures crucial to your dream home?

• You might not be able to have everything you want, but you can probably have what you really want the most. Maybe marble countertops are worth a lower quality floor. Establish your priorities before getting started.

2. Be well informed. If you’re hiring others to do the work, get multiple quotes. Obtain a breakdown of the costs for both labor and materials. Take a stroll through your local home improvement center and see if the material costs seem appropriate.

• Getting multiple bids will also give you an accurate idea of how much money you would save if you chose to take on the project yourself.

3. Shop around for raw materials. If you do decide to tackle the work yourself, check out all the large homebuilding stores for the best prices. You will certainly find that some supplies are less expensive at one location than others.

Watch the weekly fliers and grab the materials you need while they’re on sale.

• Also, if you go to the post office and get a change-of-address kit, there’s usually a coupon for 10% off at Lowes. Why pay full price when you can get an automatic discount?

4. Think small. Do you really need to remodel the entire bathroom? Or would a few hundred dollars on new fixtures and a new toilet get the job done? Consider the scale of your project and see if it can be minimized without dramatically diminishing your level of satisfaction.

5. Watch the financing. There can be a big difference between a home improvement loan, a home equity loan, and simple financing. Consider the type of loan that works best for your situation.

  • Shop around for the best interest rates.
  • Consult an accountant if needed and consider any tax implications.

6. What’s the resale value? If you’re not planning in staying in the house for a very long time, think about the effect the improvement project will have on the resale value of your home.

• The typical rate of return on various home improvements is available online. By doing the work yourself, you can make a huge impact on the value you get for your investment.

7. Do it yourself. Labor accounts for approximately 50% of the cost of many home improvements. That’s a lot of money you can save if you have the skill to put in your own labor!

Home improvement projects are always exciting, but the bill that comes along with them can be a challenge. Use the advice in this article to ensure that you’re using your resources wisely. You’ll not only be closer to the home of your dreams, but you’ll also have a house you can still afford.

5 Inexpensive Home Improvements to Instantly Increase Your Property Value

In order to increase your property value, it’s important to pay attention to the desires of prospective buyers when doing upgrades in your home. However, bringing your home up-to-date needn’t cost you an arm and a leg. In fact, it’ll generally cost you an afternoon and less than $1,000 to create the look buyers and appraisers are fawning over.

Try these inexpensive home improvements that are sure to increase its value and aesthetic appeal:

1: Crown Molding. Rather than spending hundreds of dollars on having luxurious crown molding installed, you can create the look yourself by using inexpensive faux techniques!

• Using a nail gun, nail decorative molding to the top of the wall adjacent to the ceiling. Four inches below this molding, nail another stripe of this decorative molding throughout the room. Then, simply paint the blank 4-inch area with white paint.

2: Hardwood flooring. Hardwood flooring is generally a very costly endeavor, often costing more than $4 per square foot. However, bamboo flooring is surprisingly inexpensive, costing as little as $1.79 per square foot.

• For a 1,500 sq. ft. home, the cost of purchasing bamboo flooring for the price mentioned above would be approximately $2,700. However, keep in mind that it generally isn’t recommended to lay hardwood in bathrooms and kitchens. Therefore, omitting these rooms would result in an even lower cost.

• Many homes have hardwood flooring only in the entryway, living room and dining room. The kitchen and bathrooms are generally tiled, and the bedrooms and upstairs hallway are carpeted.

3: Landscaping. Your home’s curb appeal will set the tone for how a buyer will feel before even entering your home. If your landscaping is lacking and the siding of your home is dingy, they won’t expect much of the interior.

• Tidying up can go a long way. Rent a power washer to deeply clean your home’s siding, deck, driveway and entryway. Renting a power washer can cost as little as $70, but it can increase your home’s curb appeal exponentially.

• Planting flowers and plants on both sides of your porch to flank your entryway is a nice way to say “welcome home” to buyers (and the appraiser). To save money, purchase plants and flowers that are in season. You can also plant flowers as bulbs to save a few dollars, though the effects will not be instantaneous.

• Exterior shutters add traditional charm to your home. The best part is that you can purchase shutters for as little as $65 each at home improvement stores like Lowes and Home Depot.

4: Add a backsplash. A backsplash is to the kitchen what eyebrows are to the face – it frames the room. By simply adding a backsplash to the bare space between your countertops and cabinets, you can transform your kitchen from blah to ta-da!

• While kitchen backsplashes are generally a high-cost project, you can minimize this expense by using a low cost tile for the majority of the backsplash and placing a stripe or pattern of luxurious coordinating tiles throughout.

• Consider using unconventional materials, such as tin ceiling panels, vinyl tile flooring, or even painting a backsplash by using faux finishing techniques. Out-of-the box creativity can often pay off nicely when re-decorating.

5: Upgrade a bathroom. A bathroom upgrade needn’t cost $10,000 in order to look beautiful. Rather than adding a new garden tub or replacing a vanity, make small upgrades in order to achieve an equally impressive impact.

• Frame your builder-grade mirror by using a $100 mirror framing kit from companies like MirrorMate or Moen.

• Add new hardware to your vanity for less than $25.

• Paint an outdated vanity for less than $25 and paint over tired laminate with a $50 faux-granite countertop paint kit from a company such as Giani.

• Remember to apply a fresh coat of neutral paint to the walls.

• In total, your bathroom upgrade would cost approximately $200. Now, that’s a big bang for your buck!

As a homeowner, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your home is up-to-date to routinely increase your home’s property value.

In reality, your home is only worth as much as a buyer is willing to pay for it. Therefore, it only makes sense to upgrade your home with the trimmings you know are sound investments because they’re highly requested features by buyers.

Inexpensive Ways to Beautify Your Bathroom

There are inexpensive ways to make your bathroom more beautiful even if you can’t afford a full remodeling. These are some ideas for getting a new look on a small budget. They require little cash or home improvement skills, but will have a big impact on your bathroom.

Refresh Your Bathroom Tiles and Walls:

  1. Give your old tiles back their shine. Even if your tiles look dingy, all they may need is a thorough cleaning and de-scaling to restore them to their original luster. If you’re feeling creative, you could use tile paint and transfers to design some accents on the borders or a pattern in the center.
  2. Paint the walls. Paint is always one of the cheapest options for major redecorating. Prepare the walls carefully and you can get great results with bargain brand paint.

Develop Attractive Storage Solutions:

  1. Get rid of clutter. Your bathroom will look better instantly if you get rid of toiletries and accessories that have passed their prime. For the rest, develop attractive storage solutions.
  2. Find alternatives to the towel rack. Show off your prettiest towels by rolling them up in a steel bucket or a wooden wine rack. You could also fold them up and display them on the rungs of a small ladder.
  3. Fashion your own storage pieces. Skip the expensive ready-made storage systems and make your own from rummage sale finds and objects you already have around the house. An old nightstand or changing table can be moved into the bathroom. Hair dryers can be stored in fabric bags.

Decorate Your Mirrors:

  1. Add patterns to ordinary mirrors. Use stencils and enamel paint to sprinkle your mirror with flowers and hearts. Get the effects of etched glass with inexpensive paint kits.
  2. Make your mirror a message board. Change your mirror every day by posting messages to yourself and your family. Dry erase markers can be easily washed off or use up your old lipstick and eyeliner.

Update Your Lighting:

  1. Replace your old fluorescent bulbs. The whole bathroom will look better if you trade your old fluorescent lights for more flattering incandescent bulbs. Always keep scented candles on hand for bath time.
  2. Bring in some additional lighting. Add pretty wall sconces for extra lighting and decorations. Small table lamps with decorative shades look great on bathroom counters.

Give Your Vanity and Cabinets a New Look:

  1. Add a coat of paint. Shiny enamel paint can spruce up your old cabinets. It doesn’t cost much, but give adequate time for disassembling the cabinets and putting them back together again, as well as sanding and cleaning.
  2. Replace the knobs and hinges. New knobs and hinges are another easy way to get a new look. Shop for bargains among discontinued styles. If you’re handy, you can craft your own knobs from all kinds of common items like spools or brooches or even rocks.

Learn to Accessorize:

  1. Replace your shower curtain. A new shower curtain can transform your bathroom. Pick up styles you like when they’re on sale so you’ll have replacements around when you feel like a change. Substitute colorful ribbons for plain old plastic curtain rings.
  2. Buy some plants. Plants are always a great value. They cleanse the air while they make your surroundings look peaceful. For a bathroom, select species that tolerate high humidity.
  3. Pull up a chair. A simple chair can make your bathroom feel more gracious. Raid your own basement or look around at garage sales.

Having a beautiful bathroom doesn’t have to cost a fortune. With the right accessories and minor home improvement projects, you can make your bathroom look fabulous on a low budget.

D.I.Y. Cleaning Solutions That Save You $$$

Tile cleaner, counter cleaner, wood cleaner, sink cleaner, and more… most of us have at least one cabinet filled with cleaning supplies that we paid good money for. Not only are these chemicals pricey, but also they’re highly toxic to us and the environment!

Homemade cleaning solutions cost about one tenth the price of store bought cleaners, take up less room, and are healthier for you and your family!

These inexpensive, non-toxic items are all you need to keep your home clean and germ-free for a fraction of the cost:

• Baking soda – Cleans and deodorizes without leaving grit behind

• Washing soda

• White distilled vinegar – Mild acid that eats away water deposits and dirt

Liquid detergent

Tea tree oil – Great for killing all kinds of mold!

• Clean spray bottles

What Can I Make With These Ingredients?

1. Sink and tub cleaner. Half a cup of baking soda mixed with enough liquid detergent to make a paste is excellent for cleaning your tub. To wipe away stubborn water deposits, pour vinegar on them. If you have some build-up and the deposits don’t loosen immediately, let the vinegar sit for a while and repeat until the deposits loosen and wipe off.

2. Window cleaner. Mix together 1⁄2 teaspoon of liquid detergent, 3 tablespoons of vinegar, and 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. Use newspaper instead of a rag to clean with and your windows will come out sparkling and streak-free!

3. Oven cleaner. Unplug your oven and sprinkle a layer of water, then baking soda, then more water on the bottom of the oven. Let it sit overnight. In the morning, use a soapy sponge to wipe clean.

4. All purpose spray cleaner. Mix together a drop of liquid soap, 1⁄2 teaspoon of washing soda and 2 cups of hot water in a spray bottle. This solution is great for everyday cleaning of counters, stove tops, microwaves, and more. It will cut grease and leave surfaces shining.

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